Thursday, August 19, 2010

Science fictional stalkers, urgent transparency & science!

=== First, items related to sci fi! ===

WeAreScienceProbesSee a vivid and clever animated tale about superstition and its consequences.  Note the copy of The Postman (in yellow) in the stack in front of the library near the beginning!

Just to show you how dangerous it is to be a World Famous author, first have another look at JK Rowling’s very best literary “stalker”... (brilliant stuff!)...

...and then (if you have a thick skin for bawdiness) gander at this video of appreciation dedicated to my pal Ray Bradbury. 

And yes, that is what the typical sci fi fan is like.  Especially my fans.
Right! ;-)

 === News From the transparency front ===

1)   Read this: Police Officers Don't Check their Civil Rights at the Station House Door.  Show it to friends. It is not about left or right... nor are the police being particularly vile.  Only human.  Nevertheless, this must nor be allowed to stand.

3) "Over-the-counter markets for derivatives have been a subject of blame for the global crisis. This column argues that the rising opacity and barriers to entry in these markets have been sorely overlooked leading to dark pools, flash trading, and front-running. These unfair practices can – at any time – cripple markets. They undermine the premise of free markets and should be stopped......Dark pools are a private or alternative trading system that allows participants to transact without displaying quotes publicly. Orders are anonymously matched and not reported to any entity, even the regulators (Younglai and Spicer 2009). Thus, the mainstream exchange-traded market does not have any clue about the volume of transactions happening in this parallel market or the prices at which they are being executed.

“Obviously, price discovery on the mainstream market, without dark pools information, becomes inefficient. Moreover, transactions carried out in dark pools effectively become over-the-counter in nature as the prices are not reported and financial risks not effectively managed. More critically, these risks can spread like wild fire as we saw in collateralised debt obligations and credit default swaps markets."


3) Falling Whistles is an organization is committed to raising awareness to the civil war underway in the Congo.  In this conflict, boys too small to carry a gun are forced to become “whistle blowers” and sent to the front lines of the war.  Facing death they are sent running toward the army as the first wave of attackers – armed with only their whistle. (Shudder!)

=== More Science! ===

See the editorial introducing Scientific American’s September issue about the many varied types of “doomsday” people are bruiting about. Of course, this relates to my novel-in-progress - EXISTENCE.

Are you an electronics wiz who wants a really far-out cool project?  According to a recent, important paper by Benford, Benford and Benford, the SETI Institute’s Allen Array - a lavishly funded radio telescope dedicated to sifting the cosmos for signs of intelligent life - is designed EXACTLY WRONG!  What is needed instead is a vast dispersal of 5,000 less sensitive backyard receivers, linked in a network that will look at all the sky, all the time... exactly as conceived in Project Argus!

And then... hydrogen gas flowing down through Titan's atmosphere disappears at the surface, suggesting it could be being breathed by alien bugs.  Also lack of acetylene on the surface, leading scientists to believe it may be being consumed by life. Scientists had expected sunlight interacting with chemicals in the atmosphere to produce acetylene that falls down to coat Titan's surface. But Cassini detected no acetylene there.

Packing-for-MarsAnd a book that seems whimsically interesting. “In Packing for Mars, Roach tackles the strange science of space travel, and the psychology, technology, and politics that go into sending a crew into orbit. Roach is unfailingly inquisitive (Why is it impolite for astronauts to float upside down during conversations? Just how smelly does a spacecraft get after a two week mission?)”

==ANOTHER ITEM FOR THE PREDICTIONS REGISTRY?  ==

Compare this exciting scientific news story  - about the careful, layer-by-layer analysis of 650 million year old fossils - with my portrayal of a very similar process, in my story "Genji" which appeared in the collaborative science fiction collection MURASAKI, way back in 1992.

"The laser played across the cliff face in double waves.  First a gentle scan lit every millimeter of the sheer sedimentary surface, while widely spaced recording devices read its reflections, noting every microscopic contour and color variation.  Then, when that first scan was finished, the machine sent forth a much more powerful second beam, which seared away a thin layer wherever it touched.  Monitors now recorded glowing spectra from these vapors, taking down elemental compositions in minute detail.

"... What grew in the computer display was a slice by thin slice representation of the cliff. Each horizontal lamina layer had been laid down along this ancient coast long ago, when the vagaries of this slowly shifting archipelago pushed lapping tidal waters over the place where he now stood. Amid the slowly growing image in his holo screen lay speckles of bright color where the semi intelligent device discovered the outlines of fossils... the remains of dead Genjian creatures which had settled into the mud long ago, only to have their hard tissues replaced gradually by a process of mineralization and preservation quite similar to what occurred on Earth."


My friend, the late American space pioneer, Dr Robert L Forward, proposed that the orbit of a geostationary satellite could be pushed above -- or below -- the usual geostationary ring around the Earth, which follows the line of the equator, by using a large solar sail propelled by the pressure of sunlight. However, critics later claimed that such 'displaced orbits' were impossible due to the unusual dynamics of the problem. Now his idea has been proved.
...and finally...

=== Okay I was wrong ===

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was forced to retire in July after an embarrassing Rolling Stone article quoted him and his staff making disparaging remarks about top White House Officials , is taking a job at Yale.  All right then, his lapse in judgement wasn’t deliberate - to win a retirement gig on Fox.  Instead, maybe it was simply human.  Ah well.  At least we do not make such men throw themselves on their swords.  Benefit of the doubt. It seems he was and is ... a useful person.

-------

PS... just returned (exhausted) from shepherding three teens through Paris and ... Rome in August.  No wonder those guys ventured forth to conquer Gaul!  (See details on my facebook page!)

150 comments:

GreedyAlgorithm said...

Your Police Officers link is broken

Tony Fisk said...

Welcome back.

Sounds like you need a holiday!

David Brin said...

http://reason.com/archives/2010/08/09/police-officers-dont-check-the

CulturalEngineer said...

I could not agree more re transparency in financial markets.

There are multiple practices that technology has made possible in this field that are as disastrous as any high-tech explosive... whether its flash trading, quote stuffing, or synthetic CDO's...

Trade technologies are a particular interest (whether physical or electronic)...

In fact, going along with the financial transparency thing generally...

I've often sought to create the best mental picture... simply in my mind... of how ALL the credits and debits (within the currency realm I describe... as opposed to other kinds of mutual obligations)...

of all the people in the world... with all their different credits and debits linking to all their respective counter-parties...

would look on some sort of three dimensional, realtime, plumbing-like display... with pipe circumference representing purchasing power and distance to the counter-party geographical distance or some other metric...

size of the node representing the size of the net credit or debit position of the individual with color distinguishing between the two.

All adjusting in real time...

Of course, that level of presentation isn't possible... yet or maybe never...

My point... is that even the surely inaccurate, but not totally inaccurate picture I conjure up...

displays a very, very, sick and unsustainable global distribution of that portion of 'social energy' which currencies drive... which is too much as it is with the current top-down currency systems.

Don't know if that made any sense. I'm exhausted...

Some Good News for my little project! Been asked to write 3-part series for the . Peer to Peer Foundation on the Individually-controlled/Commons-dedicated Account!

Possibilities in bloom!

My take on an ActBlue donation button you can now add to your profile on Facebook:
Political Fundraising: Act Blue, Facebook and the Missing Network Imperative

P.S. You probably know of it already but this is a very, very cool site for graphic presentation of very important data:

Gapminder

Really... check it out!

Tony Fisk said...

@rewinn: let us know when you've written it!

Gapminder is known. Is very cool.

To repeat: I linked previous post to this Worldchanging article: Spotlighting the Shadow Economy

ovetor: a machine for making eggs. (see also lactor: machine for making milk cartons)

Tony Fisk said...

... ahem! Make that @CulturalEngineer

repile: the retraction of a false and damaging carpet.

David Brin said...

geez, I was being metaphorical when I called for blue state folks to start wearing blue and fighting back. But this is taking it literally!

Burning Confederate flags...

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/08/one-progressives-natl-scheme-to-burn-confederate-flags-at-tea-party-rallies.php

Mark said...

I didn't like the article that lumped global warming in with the Mayan calendar. Seriously taking threats we can see objectively is part of what makes humans so successful.

We all believe we live in an exceptional time, perhaps even a critical moment in the history of the species

For the past couple of hundred years, this has been true. That is the nature of exponential growth, you always are living at an exceptional, critical moment in history.

Tacitus2 said...

Welcome back David! I have often traveled with teenaged boys and it is duty most arduous. But fun.

The confederate flag burning is just political theater, the kind of stuff both sides do to try and provoke an irrational response from their "opponants". I am going to try really hard to ignore all such nonsense as the political season heats up. There are enough real issues to go around.

So don't ask my opinion on Birthers, Truthers, Mosquers, or people who want to use their carbon credits burning symbolic carbohydrates or synthetics.

Tacitus2

gwern said...

If anyone cares about prediction registries, I've been compiling predictions from LessWrong, Long Bets, Wrong Tomorrow, and Intrade onto PredictionBook (see http://predictionbook.com/predictions).

Tim H. said...

More political sarcasm here: http://imvotingteaparty.com
Seriously, if Obama can counter the effects of a couple of generations of anti-labor policy, the Tea Party would wither.

Darrell E said...

Wow. That article about recording on duty police officers is seriously disturbing. The quotes from advocates on the law enforcement side could have come right out of a B level Walking Tall kind of movie. Very scary.

This whole privilaged, above the law, para military law enforcement culture needs to be stamped out. The proper mindset for law enforcement should be something like "We serve the public, and at the sufferance of the public".

Tim H. said...

"This whole privilaged, above the law, para military law enforcement culture needs to be stamped out. The proper mindset for law enforcement should be something like "We serve the public, and at the sufferance of the public"."
By courageous people with competent lawyers and an understanding with the bail bondsman. They'll need it.

Stefan Jones said...

Tacitus, your opinion of the Birthers and Mosquers and Obama is Muslimers and etcetera doesn't matter. You're sane. Sane isn't worth a damn these days. Conservative pundits and politicians are gleefully jumping on the I R AN IGNORANT HICK LIKE U! bandwagon and inviting their base on board for the ride. They're deliberately aligning themselves with the crazy.

* * *

The Confederate Flag burning notion was a reaction to a Florida pastor's call for a burn the Koran day.

It turns out he won't be allowed to:

'Remember that Florida "church" with the plan to torch a pile of Korans in commemoration of 9/11? Turns out there's one thing they weren't counting on: a local Fire Department that's stingy with outdoor fire permits.'

David Brin said...

The scariest thing about the police using privacy laws to stop recordings is simple...the citizen is left with no recourse. None at all.

rewinn said...

One would think that opposition to laws banning or punishing the recording of government operations that going on in public would transcend the silly left/right divide.

But I suppose one has to WANT to transcend the divide. I'm not referring to anyone in THIS community, just wondering if this might be a litmus test for the sincerity of good-government claims.

Tony Fisk said...

So what's wrong with celebrating public servants performing their duties to the best of their abilities?

It would prove beyond all reasonable doubt that 'all the cops around here are good cops'.

*That* is what is telling, I think: the presumption that recording a police officer on duty is harassment.

Robert said...

To play devil's advocate for one minute, how would you feel if your boss installed a security camera over your cubicle to record your every action while you work? And then used that footage to fire you if you didn't work constantly while on the clock?

There is a difference. Police hold a lot of power over the common person. This is a means to reduce corruption. But the same could be said about cameras in the workplace and holding people responsible for constantly working instead of goofing off like most of us admittedly do when on the clock.

Rob H.

rewinn said...

Perhaps ... not justifying here, just trying to think it through ... cameras are an issue of control.

Cops control. It's what they do, and it's what we ask them to do, albeit without thinking about it. Cops are usually outnumbered and they stay alive by staying on top of whatever is going down. As a result, too many confuse themselves with God or screw up in other ways, but that's not the issue.

The issue is (maybe) that the guy with the camera takes away some control. Suddenly it's not the cop who will be telling the world what happened (...because who you gonna believe ... the person arrested or the hero in uniform? c'mon!). The camera takes away some of that control, and that stimulates the fear of loss of control.

In an ideal world perhaps all cop interactions would be videorecorded and fully publicly available. There are privacy problems there too but ... whattheheck nothing's perfect.

Jonathan S. said...

The difference, Rob, is that so far I haven't seen any footage on the evening news of cops sitting around dunking their doughnuts in their coffee.

I have, however, seen footage of Seattle police officers beating, kicking, and verbally abusing a Hispanic man (who hadn't actually done anything wrong at that point); delivering a severe beat-down on a young girl handcuffed in a holding cell, for kicking her shoe off in the officer's general direction; and gang-beating a mentally disabled young man who was jaywalking in a suburban street while talking on a cell phone.

Without the cameras, the police would have been able to use "resisting arrest" as an excuse (as they did in the case of the young man - too bad another citizen filmed the entire incident), or claimed they were "assaulted" (as the sheriff's deputy tried to describe the shoe incident).

squallat: a storm-locating system, as in, "Where's the squallat?"

Robert said...

What of coworkers who steal company time or surf the web when on the job (stealing company resources)? Or even steal office supplies... from something so little as a pen to actual office equipment? Is their crimes no less valid to insist that everyone be recorded constantly so to prevent these crimes against businesses from occurring? Just being the devil's advocate here you know.

And yet what is to keep someone from doctoring footage to make it appear as something other than it was? Who do we believe, the cop or the footage? And even once it's discovered the footage was "edited" how many people will continue to believe the lie they saw on YouTube or whatever?

Mind you, I'm playing Devil's Advocate here. And the best method of avoiding this is for police to record EVERYTHING so that if doctored footage appears they can instantly counter with the complete footage of what happened.

Hell, an example of this lies with a recent BBC broadcast on the Turkish ship incident... added footage from this documentary revealed strong suggestions that the Israelis landed in a trap that was designed by militants to embarrass Israel (and how much do you want to bet that if the Israelis hadn't shot their way out, that several commandos would have been captured and turned over to Hamas upon reaching Gaza?); the outcry about the documentary being biased because it's not completely anti-Israel is telling.

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

Ultimately, I believe greater levels of transparency is best for police and for citizens. But there are drawbacks. I mean, who doesn't complain about getting a traffic violation notice in the mail because they were caught running a stop light by camera? Or caught speeding but not pulled over? These are caught on camera. They are valid. And yet we complain when this is used against us.

Just food for thought here.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

DEAR CIA: YOUR FINGERPRINTS ARE SHOWING

10 July 2010: President Obama urges U.S. allies to charge Wikileaks founder Julian Assange with espionage:
http://www.infowars.com/obama-wants-wikileaks-assange-charged-with-espionage/

12 July 2010: Pentagon warns Wikileaks founder Julian Assange of
"serious consequences" if he leaks an additional estimated 15,000 Afghanistan war documents
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67B53T20100812

20 July 2010: Swedish newspapers report Wikileaks founder Julian Assange charged with rape of two girls who happen to know each other during his visit to Sweden to set up secure servers there to host Wikileaks:
http://translate.google.se/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=sv&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.expressen.se%2FNyheter%2F1.2104976%2Fwikileaks-grundare-anhallen-for-valdtakt&sl=sv&tl=en

Dear CIA: this is not your best work. The frame is too obvious. Really, I'm embarrassed. Can't you manage anything better? The two girls just happened to KNOW each other? He allegedly raped one girl on August 14th yet she didn't warn her friend not to go with him on the 17th of August? Assange supposedly raped them during his week-long layover in Sweden to discuss setting up the Wikileaks servers in that country?

In "The Godfather II" it was done much better. They drugged a hooker and a senator, took incrimiating pictures, then murdered her and blackmailed him. Even the senator never even knew he was being framed. THAT was slick. That's professional. This is just embarrassing.

The guys in the CIA were probably under immense pressure from the White House. This is the best they could come up with inside the 7 or 8 day window they were given. Still, it's so clumsy and so obvious it's disgusting. Do they really think anyone will buy this horseshit?

Anonymous said...

http://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/21731247584

(EXPRESSEN is a Swedish tabloid, the equivalent of America's National Enquirer)

"At a certain point there are some high-profile arrests - usually of opposition leaders, clergy and
journalists. Then everything goes quiet. After those arrests, there are still newspapers, courts, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn't real dissent. There just isn't freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests
is where we are now."

Naomi Klein, step 9 of "Fascist America, In 10 Easy Steps":

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/apr/24/usa.comment

You can practically hear the conversation inside the Pentagon Joint Special Operations Command where they planned this black op:

[INTERIOR PENTAGON E-RING JSOC, CONCRETE-WALLED FARADAY-SHIELDED BUNKER BEHIND A BANK VAULT STEEL DOOR. 4 PEOPLE SIT AROUND A TABLE. ONE PERSON IS A 4-STAR GENERAL, ONE OLDER MAN WEARS A SUIT, TWO YOUNGER MEN NERVOUSLY FLIP THROUGH A CIA DATABASE ON THEIR SECURE ENCRYPTED NOTEBOOK COMPUTERS WITH BUILT-IN PALLADIUM ENCRYTION CHIPS AND GPS TRACKERS]

PENTAGON HEAD OF SPECIAL OPS: We need this guy Assange dealt with. It has to be permanent.

1st YOUNG GUY: We could take him out. Car accident.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUIT: Too obvious. Try again.

2nd YOUNG GUY: Maybe poison. Ricin, like the KGB used on that defector in the 70s...

PENTAGON HEAD OF SPECIAL OPS [BANGS TABLE WITH HIS FIST]: No, goddammit! There can be NO questions. No incriminating blowback. We need the guy discredited. He has to be ruined.
Dead, he's just a martyr. We have to destroy him. Not just the man, but his reputation -- his credibility. And it has to be done _fast_.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUIT: The orders on this come from the top. Right from the top. We need results.

1st YOUNG GUY: But we're new to operations. We've never done anything like this before. If we can't --

PENTAGON HEAD OF SPECIAL OPS: We wouldn't just fire you two. Not with what you know.

2nd YOUNG GUY [LOOK QUICKLY AT THE OTHER YOUNG GUY IN TERROR]: Uh, we could, uh, arrange something, sexual, maybe.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUIT: That sounds good. Underage boy?

1st YOUNG GUY: No, we'd have to bribe him and he might break down and go soft. The kid could fold under cross examination at trial, or if the police went at him hard. Besides, gay isn't the
black mark it used to be. We need something non-consensual.

2nd YOUNG GUY: Rape! Yeah, we could blackmail a couple of girls into pressing rape charges.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUIT: Why not just pay them?

PENTAGON HEAD OF SPECIAL OPS: You need absolute control. The operators can't walk back on their stories. That would be too damaging. We could find a pressure point. Parents, or a boyfriend who got into trouble with the law. Something we can control completely. If the girls try to walk back on the story, the entire family goes to prison for life without parole. This could work.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUIT: Set it up.

1st YOUNG GUY: Uh, okay, when should I give you a detailed sitrep?

PENTAGON HEAD OF SPECIAL OPS: There are no reports on this op. Nothing in the computers, no records, no logs. This meeting never happened. Verbal chain-of-command only. Use only secure land line communications. Do it fast. The top guy wants Assange taken out yesterday.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUIT: This meeting is over. Don't contact us directly. We'll assign a cutout from Defense Intelligence. Everything liases through him. This is compartmentalized under need-to-know. And this has to work. It has to work perfectly. There can't be any evidence. Do you understand me? [long silence] Good. Get it done.

Anonymous said...

http://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/21731247584

"At a certain point there are some high-profile arrests - usually of opposition leaders, clergy and
journalists. Then everything goes quiet. After those arrests, there are still newspapers, courts, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn't real dissent. There just isn't freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests
is where we are now."

Naomi Klein, step 9 of "Fascist America, In 10 Easy Steps":

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/apr/24/usa.comment

You can practically hear the conversation inside the Pentagon Joint Special Operations Command where they planned this black op:

[INTERIOR PENTAGON E-RING JSOC, CONCRETE-WALLED FARADAY-SHIELDED BUNKER BEHIND A BANK VAULT STEEL DOOR. 4 PEOPLE SIT AROUND A TABLE. ONE PERSON IS A 4-STAR GENERAL, ONE OLDER MAN WEARS A SUIT, TWO YOUNGER MEN NERVOUSLY FLIP THROUGH A CIA DATABASE ON THEIR SECURE ENCRYPTED NOTEBOOK COMPUTERS]

PENTAGON HEAD OF SPECIAL OPS: We need this guy Assange dealt with. It has to be permanent.

1st YOUNG GUY: We could take him out. Car accident.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUIT: Too obvious. Try again.

2nd YOUNG GUY: Maybe poison. Ricin, like the KGB used on that defector in the 70s...

PENTAGON HEAD OF SPECIAL OPS [BANGS TABLE WITH FIST]: No, goddammit! There can be NO questions. No incriminating blowback. We need the guy discredited. He has to be ruined.
Dead, he's just a martyr. We have to destroy him. Not just the man, but his reputation -- his credibility. And it has to be done _fast_.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUIT: The orders on this come from the top. Right from the top. We need results.

1st YOUNG GUY: But we're new to operations. We've never done anything like this before. If we can't --

PENTAGON HEAD OF SPECIAL OPS: We wouldn't just fire you two. Not with what you know.

2nd YOUNG GUY [LOOK QUICKLY AT THE OTHER YOUNG GUY IN TERROR]: Uh, we could, uh, arrange something, sexual, maybe.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUIT: That sounds good. Underage boy?

1st YOUNG GUY: No, we'd have to bribe him. The kid could fold under cross examination at trial. Besides, gay isn't the
black mark it used to be. We need something non-consensual.

2nd YOUNG GUY: Rape! Yeah, we could blackmail a couple of girls into pressing rape charges.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUIT: Why not just pay them?

PENTAGON HEAD OF SPECIAL OPS: You need absolute control. The operators can't walk back on their stories. That would be too damaging. We could find a pressure point. Set up the parents on a drug charge, or find a boyfriend under indictment. Something we can control completely. If the girls try to walk back on the story, the entire family goes to prison for life without parole. This could work.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUIT: Set it up.

1st YOUNG GUY: Uh, okay, when should I give you a detailed sitrep?

PENTAGON HEAD OF SPECIAL OPS: There are no reports on this op. Nothing in the computers, no records, no logs. This meeting never happened. Verbal chain-of-command only. Use only secure land lines. Do it fast. The top guy wants Assange taken out yesterday.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUIT: This meeting is over. Don't contact us directly. We'll assign a cutout from Defense Intelligence. Everything liases through him. This is compartmentalized under need-to-know. And this has to work. It has to work perfectly. There can't be any evidence. Do you understand me? [long silence] Good. Get it done.

Anonymous said...

New computer chip calculates probabilities instead of binary numbers:

http://www.physorg.com/news201433331.html

Mammalian brains are essentially probability engines, sieving incomplete sensory data to guesstimate reality. Example: what your visual cortex does when you see a spotted leopard under the dappled shadow of a tree. So this could be -very- useful.

Did a trojan virus cause a commercial plane crash?

http://www.techeye.net/security/trojan-could-have-caused-spanair-plane-crash

Long-lost trailer for blaxploitation version of STAR WARS found! (Okay, not really...but it's clever & funny)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NATeU-r0GDU

1958 seminal Soviet science fiction film "Road To the Stars" now online! (If you don't understand Russian, oh well. Fortunately ya panemaiou pa russki khoroscho.)

http://rutube.ru/tracks/58395.html?v=53ec34fa33e2e6b605a301fb0e466507

Get your Tea Party T shirt today!

http://imvotingteaparty.com/

Book review of "Packing for Mars" by Mary Roach. Space flight will never be the same.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/books/review/Lord-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&nl=books&emc=booksupdateema3

Astronaut Story Musgrave lambastes NASA's manned space plans. “We’re going nowhere, we’re going to launch nothing, we’re going to do nothing. It takes us 15 years to do what we did in 5 years, 50 years ago.” But the truth is, robots are the future of space exploration. Humans are too fragile and too vulnerable to radiation and osteoporosis + muscle atrophy from prolonged weightlessness. Musgrave is a sharp overachiever with 7 postgraduate degrees, but he's still wrong about this one.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/08/19/happy-birthday-story-musgrave/

Creeping Chinese dysgraphia:

http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2010/07/forgotten_chara.php

A peek into America's recessionary future: Detroit crashes CRIMEMAPPER
app. The online software wasn't designed to plot that many crimes:

http://i.imgur.com/fMX9f.jpg

A peek behind the curtain at the financial Wizard of Oz:

http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2010/08/market-data-firm-spots-the-tracks-of-bizarre-robot-traders/60829/

Press Release — Sci-Fi Magazine Prints on Clay Tablets
Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:16 pm

For Public Release: 8/25/10

Contact: Matthew Bey, Publisher and Communications Director, Space Squid
email: squishy-at-spacesquid-dot-com

Literary Magazine to Print on Dead Media — Clay Tablets

As digital media threatens traditional print periodicals with economic and cultural obsolescence, some magazines are returning to their ancient roots. Austin-based science fiction and humor magazine Space Squid will print its ninth issue on clay tablets.

“Print is dead,” says Space Squid design editor Steve Wilson. “So there’s no reason not to print on the deadest media available. There isn’t much difference between dead media and really, really dead media.”

More at
http://www.spacesquid.com

Video of clay tablet printing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gg6oNMB6Fg

Photos of clay tablet printing:
http://www.revolutionsf.com/bb/weblog_entry.php?e=2539

ell said...

Connie Willis was quoted on public radio today saying science fiction was cautionary -- what could go wrong with this lovely-sounding concept.

Other scientists and engineers told how the science fiction of their childhoods inspired them to invent the gizmos in the stories.

Ever notice how a Star Trek communicator resembles a cell phone? Nowadays, however, the cell phones are even smaller...

Also: Note that the Y2K fiasco didn't happen because we hired thousands of programmer to prevent it. There were a few site that did jam up because they didn't correct the 00 problem (Tokyo subway, as I recall).

Jacob said...

Re: Devil's Advocate Rob H.

Hi Rob,

In the ideal situation of using Cameras to evaluate productivity, the workers would demand that their bosses also be recorded at all times. In most real world situations, we fail to have workers organize to prevent one-sided heavy handedness. In a poor situation, you'd end up having exploitation of workers. Ultimately the labor market should retaliate as talented people with 'options' seek employment elsewhere. However, that does nothing to help the people that don't know better or can't do better.

I do wonder if its even possible to stop immoral employers. Close door A and they will open B, C, and D. It would be nice if we could change the business culture from "Profit and Productivity are All" to a more rounded approach. (Profit ~ Productivity ~ Employees ~ Growth & Development ~ Customers ~ Etc) Obviously some companies do. Unfortunately, my college level business course focused mostly on price point curves.

David Brin said...

"In the ideal situation of using Cameras to evaluate productivity, the workers would demand that their bosses also be recorded at all times. In most real world situations, we fail to have workers organize to prevent one-sided heavy handedness."

Jacob, might you have read The Transparent Society ?

;-)

Ilithi Dragon said...

That, or he's been lurking for a while.

Just wanted to make a quick note to Dr. Brin: I'm not allowed to read your books during the work-week anymore...

David Brin said...

Nicest compliment an author can receive.

Well... till the recent Ray Bradbury YouTube song....

;-)

Jacob said...

"Jacob, might you have read The Transparent Society?"

I own a copy.

Tim H. said...

Cameras in the workplace? Next time you're in "Big box mart", look around.

Tony Fisk said...

Most sysadmins can, on request from the Boss, rustle up the keystroke log of an employee's computer.

...Hey! Where'd everybody go?

inesses: pathologies associated with the use of Apple equipment.

Robert said...

You have to wonder at the absolute amateur (and not in a good way!) effort behind the recent rape-then-molestation charges of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. I'd almost think that it was a prank that the two girls pulled; I'd hate to think that the U.S. intelligence agencies are that inept. Unless of course it was the Afghan intelligence forces who were trying to get Assange stoned or something. Sadly we know very little of the girls behind the allegation and thus can't really determine if it was a nasty little prank (which will damage efforts of women who were actually raped from being believed in the future) or some twisted mindgame by some amateur national intelligence agency.

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

Meanwhile, proving what most people with half a brain cell in their heads in America already suspected, you can be heavy-set and yet physically fit... and you can also be "lean but obese." Or in other words, all those efforts to get people to lose weight and become a nation of anorexic skeletons is a load of bull. There is no one "magic number" when it comes to weight.

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

Finally, on a more positive (to me at least) note, Dutch sailor Laura Dekker has started her solo effort to sail the globe at age 14. Sadly, the Guiness Book of World Records will no longer acknowledge this category so to try and stop young people from doing this sort of thing; I must wonder how long before a new site, probably internet-based and amateur in status, arises to continue the tradition. After all, people will do these things anyway, and it's inevitable some amateur group will arise to give kudos to those people who attempt these difficult feats. =^-^=

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

I hadn't heard about the Swedish warrant on Assange until they retracted it.

I am setting up servers to support our drive to provide greater transparency of the world's governments' workings. Meanwhile, I shall exercise Droit de Seigneur and plough through the local talent.

As you do.

Well, well. Yet another western democracy has ended up with a hung parliament. What gives? (Don't ask me, I only live here!!)

"[find] that bloody butterfly whose flapping wings cause all these storms we've been having lately [...]"
- Pratchett

Flap: all is serene:
Flip: you are in the eye of the cyclone.

Citizen James said...

In retail it is pretty common for cameras to keep an eye on employees. Are rights only for those who can afford lawyers?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi James

"In retail it is pretty common for cameras to keep an eye on employees. Are rights only for those who can afford lawyers?"

This is EXACTLY what Dr Brin said in The Transparent Society

Tim H. said...

"Are rights only for those who can afford lawyers?" Pretty much, the best democracy money can buy.
"miciness", an urge to squeak, scurry and nibble cheese.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Two NY Times editorial articles lambasting the GOP on the 'Ground Zero Mosque':
Link 1

Link 2

And a Salon.com article arguing that the 'mosque' issue is not just a distraction, but a major issue that needs to be addressed (not over the so-called mosque itself, but the reaction and opposition to it and outrage over it):

Link 3


Ugh... Just thinking about this anymore makes me feel sick. When the hell did "I don't agree with what you believe, but I will give my life to defend your right to believe it," become an Un-American sentiment?!?!

Ilithi Dragon said...

On cameras: Eventually, we'll not only have high-def button cameras in packs of 10, as Dr. Brin predicted, but our own eyes will eventually become cameras. We're already experimenting with tech to read brainwaves on monkeys, and before long we'll have PDA-like devices that we can wear, or even have implanted in our brains, that will be able to tap into our optic nerves and overlay a computer interface onto what we see, and also record the data transmitted from our eyes (I see this style of implant interface, probably combined with auditory and olfactory nerve taps, being the most likely initial interface system of a true neural implant, to prevent direct re-writing of people's brain data until such time as a new section of the brain specifically designed to handle implant data transfers with a direct brain link without allowing total brain re-write can be genetically engineered).

When even our own eyes and ears become HD recording devices, that can upload live feeds directly to the web, opacity will be all but history (though hopefully by that point, probably after the era of $0.10 HD button cameras, it will already be an amusingly quaint historical oddity).

Ilithi Dragon said...

In fact, we've already taken the first steps towards turning our eyes into cameras:
Link.

This particular method also allows for the potential to view a person's dreams.

The advancements in these areas in the next 10-20 years, let alone the next 50 years, is going to be VERY interesting...

Jonathan S. said...

When the hell did "I don't agree with what you believe, but I will give my life to defend your right to believe it," become an Un-American sentiment?!?!

Probably about the same time that quoting word-for-word from the United States Constitution became a sign that you're a "fuzzy-brained liberal terrorist sympathizer", to quote one of my online critics. (He apparently objected to the wording of the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article IV, Section 1. I don't think he appreciated another quote I threw at him in another discussion - Matthew 6:5-6.)

Tony Fisk said...

Simple: Voltaire wasn't an American.
(... nor was Evelyn Beatrice Hall, for that matter!)

"I don't agree with what you believe, but I will give your life to defend my right not to believe it,"

There is an interesting development in face recognition software: it can be used to *blur* people of non-interest, thereby providing a certain level of privacy.

Tony Fisk said...

Rob Spence is watching you.

Tomorrow's headline:
Police officers gouge suspect's eyes to defend their privacy rights

Silly, but it demonstrates that legislating against this stuff isn't going to work.

Rob Perkins said...

If someone with enough influence would just have the insight to point out that eyewitnesses are also cameras whose footage can be taken 'way out of context, it might go a long way to diffusing the logic that cameras trained on a public place are violations of anyone's privacy.

Anonymous said...

If you want to know why the Obama administration is having such a tough time getting basic legislation through congress and where the Tea Party came from, check out this New Yorker profile of the billionaire Koch brothers and their massive funding of a relentless campaign against Obama and the Democrats:
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer?currentPage=all

Gridlock in Washington isn't just "bad luck" or "politics." It's created and perpetuated by people like the Kochs, whose thirty five billion dollar fortune makes them the second wealthiest people in America. If you want to know where the culture wars come from, here's your answer.

Alan Kellogg said...

So ordinary people are incapable of coming up with ideas on their own and need secret masterminds to direct their actions. Nice to know I don't have to take responsibility for my own actions, since I'm obviously too stupid to think for myself.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Alan,

Of course we are all capable of our own ideas, making our own decisions, etc. That's not in question or an issue (though, to be frank, some are better at that than others). The issue is that there are several multi-billion-dollar interests spending billions of dollars a year trying to INFLUENCE our decisions.

When trying to make informed and appropriate decisions, is ignoring or denying a multi-billion-dollar propaganda campaign trying to influence those decisions towards a particular path/mindset a very wise thing to do?

Anonymous said...

Proof positive that the so-called Ground Zero mosque (*cough*)controversy(*cough*) is a ginned up bunch of PR nonsense:

"Without controversy or protests, Muslims kneel in prayer every day at a quiet Pentagon chapel, only steps away from where a hijacked airliner struck the building on September 11, 2001.

"The tranquil atmosphere at the Pentagon is a stark contrast to the furor surrounding a planned mosque near Ground Zero in New York, with opponents arguing the proposed Islamic center is an insult to the memory of the 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks."
http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0821/pentagon-muslims-pray-day-protests/

This is gobsmackingly weird: radioactive decay rates appear to depend on solar flare activity from the sun.

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/august/sun-082310.html

Since this comes from Stanford, it's probably not a load of bollocks. But it's very strange. The change in radioactive decay rates begins a day and a half before major solar flares, and the changes have a regular 33 day period.

The only problem with these results is that there is currently no theory to explain how solar neutrinos could change the decay rates of radionuclides.

Of course this could all just be bad data, like polywater or Blas Cabrera's 1982 monopole signal. Time will tell.

mythusmage said...

Illithi Dragon

And it's all orchestrated by a pair of right wing Jews

Tacitus2 said...

Now to be fair, please acknowlege that there are also billionaries of the progressive stripe spending a lot of money to influence politics. George Soros comes to mind.
I do agree that the Mosque nonsense is ginned up....although I see it as an attempt to portray conservatives as mindless racist goons. If you actually look at what pretty much everyone is saying "sure they have a right to build it, but it is not in the best of taste", there is not much difference between R and D. Of course, on both sides folks sometimes make the mistake of continuing to talk after the above is out of their mouths.

Tacitus2

Anonymous said...

Nobody has mentioned anything about Jews.

Seriously...are you people stupid? Do you not realize that Fox News and Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch and Karl Rove and a handful of very wealthy people like Richard Mellon Scaife and the Koch brothers and hedge fund billionaire Peter Peterson are pouring tremendous amounts of money into blasting the U.S. media with a great deal of right-wing propaganda?

Global warming denial is getting funded mainly by oil companies and the Kock brothers. Peak oil denial is getting a lot of funding from these people. Pete Peterson has put a great deal of money into promoting notion that you Yanks must cut social security and medicare in order to get more tax cuts for billionaires. Is it possible you might not have realized this? Do you actually think that all those global warming denial white papers arise from the scientific community? I think not, inasmuch as there is at present a 98% unanimity in the scientific community favor of the AGW hypothesis.

The problem people have when they point out these kinds of orchestrated 527 groups working together to undermine Obama's progressive agenda is that people run about shouting, "That sounds like a conspiracy theory!"

Yes, well, it IS a conspiracy. A conspiracy by Rupert Murdoch and Karl Rove and some far right billionaires to frame the public discussion in extremist far right terms. And so far, I might add, it has been very successful.

Here is more evidence of the propaganda effort by Rove and company, if you have the stomach for it:
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0510/36841.html

Robert said...

Asking if someone is stupid is a surefire way of eliminating any chance of reasonable dialogue and debate. You really should have worded that differently. Unless of course your entire effort here was to alienate more conservative readers so you can crow afterward how conservatives are too hidebound to change and are unreasonable to boot.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

If you actually look at what pretty much everyone is saying "sure they have a right to build it, but it is not in the best of taste", there is not much difference between R and D. Of course, on both sides folks sometimes make the mistake of continuing to talk after the above is out of their mouths.


Two things.

First--it is unfortunate (from my side of the aisle) that the Democrats feel the need to play the other side's game here. It amounts to "Don't vote against us on this issue--we can bash Muslims too." And yes, to the extent that the Dems aren't standing up for the other (sane?) side of the argument, I do put some blame on them. But that's not the same as the assertion that both liberals and conservatives are equally against the NYC "mosque". Republicans are the ones out there stirring up the hysterics over the issue.

Now secondly, to the "in bad taste", "not the wisdom" issue...this all plays into the hysterical GOP framing of what is going on. If you believe that the proposed "mosque" in NYC is a terrorist recruiting center and a setting for launcing hate screeds against the west, then yes, it is in bad taste to rub our American noses in it. However, everything I've heard about the so-called "mosque" is that it is a community center that Muslims are building to help serve the community--akin to a YMCA--which merely CONTAINS a mosque. In other words, just the sort of thing that non-radical Muslims might be asked to do to prove that they're not all evil followers of Bin Laden.

rewinn said...

Since the 2nd largest stakeholder in Fox News' parent company is also a contributor to the organization building Park51 ...

... using Fox News' one reportorial style, we must now call it the "Fox News Mosque".

Jumper said...

I have yet to see any discussion of whether it's illegal for news teams to shoot on the streets of the states cops are busting citizens for recording. If true, it's a least an interesting factoid. If TV stations are in fact NOT busted for doing this that;'s interesting also.

I had such a liar for a former boss I had to threaten to record every conversation with a pocket recorder so he'd quit lying about what took place in our meetings. Neither he nor I work there anymore, but I'm still thinking of buying a recorder. I found it odd that microphone jacks disappeared from small tape-decks/boom boxes even when tape was still used.

Jumper said...

Buried in this
http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/recording-phone-calls-and-conversations
is that Federal law allows one party to tape face-to-face conversations HE OR SHE IS A PARTY OF without notifying the other.

Ilithi Dragon said...

@Mythusmage:

Who are conspiring to implement the Global Socialist Agenda (TM).

} ; = 8 P


Tacitus,

I haven't finished reading the New Yorker article, but it DOES acknowledge that there are wealthy people on the Dem side of the aisle giving them money. However, as the article points out, the difference is that on the Dem side, the contributions are pretty transparent. People like Soros don't hide or cover up their contributions, and Soros' donations do not parallel his personal or business interests.

The contributions to the Dem side also do not provide massive funding to the very programs and pundits that are stirring up such hate and controversy and culture war that the contributors to the GOP side are providing. The interests of the contributors to the Dem side also tend to better coincide with the long-term interests of the nation than the contributors to the GOP side. The contributors to the Dems have not, to my knowledge, funded massive smear campaigns to discredit GOP presidents (as the article notes, Koch and others provided millions of dollars in funding on massive smear campaigns on Clinton and Obama). The contributors to the Dems have not, to my knowledge, funded massive smear campaigns against science and irrefutable scientific findings.

I could go on and on. I will be the second to admit that the Dems are no saints (Dr. Brin would beat me to the punch, I'm sure), but their 'crimes' are nothing in comparison to what the GOP and its backers have been trying to pull for the last 30+ years.


Larry,

It's not even an actual mosque. It is a prayer room. It is the Islamic-themed equivalent of a Christian-themed reflection room.

Anonymous said...

Any chance of a reasonable discussion seems to have gone out the window the moment this Tacitus 2 person started talking.

"Now to be fair, please acknowlege that there are also billionaries of the progressive stripe spending a lot of money to influence politics. George Soros comes to mind," says Tacitus 2.

Oh? Really? Aside from George Soros, whom can you name?

Pray, Tactitus, tell us: where is the equivalent of Fox News Network on the left, with Roger Ailes in charge?

You do recognize, do you not, that Roger Ailes ran Ronald Reagan's president campaign? That would be equivalent to James Carville running ABC News or CBS News or CNN or NBC News. Can you name me a Democratic political operative like James Carville who runs CNN or NBC News? No?

Where are all these billionaires who have funded pro-global warming white papers? There are none, since no one needs to do so. The scientific community puts out papers documenting global warming without any need for private funding, thank you very much, since that is what the evidence appears to show. Scientists do not need to be bribed in order to reach conclusions supported by the evidence.

Where are all the far left wing socialist hippy billionaires funding pro Peak Oil propaganda? I see none.

Richard Mellon Scaife and Pete Peterson and the Koch brothers and Karl Rove and Rupert Murdoch against...George Soros. Not much of a match-up, is there? Seems a bit lopsided.

Tacitus 2 goes on to regale us with this gem: "I do agree that the Mosque nonsense is ginned up....although I see it as an attempt to portray conservatives as mindless racist goons."

Oh, I see. So the Tea Partiers do not actually represent the Republican Party, is that what you mean to say? And when New Gingrich denounces the Ground Zero mosque, Gingrich is not a leader of the Republican party -- do I understand you correctly, Tacitus?

And when Sarah Palin denounces the mosque also, she is also not a leader in the Republican party? Is that correct, Tacitus?

Now you went on to suggest that you see these denunciations of the mosque as "an attempt to portray conservatives as mindless racist goons." I want to make quite certain that I understand you here, Tacitus. Do you mean to say that Newt Gingrich was induced to denounce the mosque by means of drugs, or hypnosis? Was he perhaps instructed to strangle corporal Malvoli as a test of his conditioning? (I am sure you have seen the movie "The Manchurian Candidate" so you will recognize that scene.)

Was Sarah Palin perhaps given a deck of cards used as a trigger to set off her conditioning so that she too condemned the mosque?

Are you serious, Tacitus? Surely it cannot have escaped your notice that Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich are both regarded as leaders in the Republican party, and both of these people are daft. These are loons. They are, to put it quite simply, off it.

So when Palin and Gingrich condemn the Moslem community center, they come off like Lord Buckethead from the Monster Raving Looney Party. (This is a fringe party that stands people for MP in Britain and they spew a lot of bollocks. FYI.)
http://www.esquire.com/features/newt-gingrich-0910

Surely you do not mean to suggest that the Republican party is sane and sensible and it is only a few figures on the fringe who are acting daft. For I must tell you, Gingrich and Palin and Limbaugh and the rest of that lot are as looney as jackdaws. These people are off it. And they represent the very heart and soul of the Republican party.

Jonathan S. said...

It's not even an actual mosque. It is a prayer room. It is the Islamic-themed equivalent of a Christian-themed reflection room.

If this is to become a point, it's worth noting that the facility described can't be a mosque. According to the information I've been able to track down, a mosque can only be used for functions related to the worship of Allah - prayers, sermons, studying the Qu'ran, Islamic education (equivalent to the Christian tradition of Sunday school, or possibly Judaic shul), and weddings within the faith.

Specifically prohibited is playing - as one might expect would happen in a basketball court. Also, infidels are not welcomed into a mosque, although a seeker might be permitted to attend services with the imam's permission.

Ergo, the structure under consideration in New York is not, and cannot be, a mosque. Not that this is relevant to the property-rights and religious-freedom issues surrounding the whole mess - it merely points up the misuse of language embraced wholeheartedly by the project's opponents.

Tacitus2 said...

Annonymus
Please, I entreat of you, pick a log on name. You are serving up some tempting stuff for a riposte, but I enjoy debating with actual entities, albeit pseudononymus ones.
Might not have time til tomorrow, at work computer time is scarce.
Any chance you have read the classic Kornbluth story, The Silly Season? It reminds me of the level of our current political discourse.
That Tacitus person

Jumper said...

At this point I usually start wondering what is really going into play; the real news is, that "they" are trying to hide with this distracting public pageant of idiocy. One summer it was shark attacks and Condit stories.

But I'm just being paranoid.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Anon,

I'm going to second Tacitus' request to pick a designation. You've dived right into the discussion here, and while I tend to agree with you, it would be nice to have an identity with which to address you by.

Further, I'm also going to ask that you ease up just a tad. We tend to promote thick skins around here, but Tacitus is a respected member of this little community here, and his opinion is valued, however dissenting it may be, and you're toeing the line between aggressive debate and provocative hostility.

Robert said...

I too have problems with people posting anonymous attacks on people here. How can you take someone seriously if they hide their face (so-to-speak) and refuse to reveal who they are? Tacticus is not even one of the conservatives you have a beef with; he listens. He may not agree with what's said, but he still listens. It's better to have give and take than to insist that your way is the only way and refuse to accept input from outside.

One thing I truly would love to see is conservatives and liberals (and moderates) working together to create balanced legislation that is in our best interests, rather than broken legislation from the far wings of either party. Because let's face it. Liberals are no better than conservatives. Both make mistakes, both are flawed, and both need the other to create legislation that has our best interests in mind.

Rob H., a proud conservative who regrets that the Republican Party moved so far Right that he's now in the center.

Tacitus2 said...

It bears pointing out that the symbol of the Republican Party is the elephant. A Pachyderm.
That's latin for thick skinned.
Not that I have any warm fuzzy feeling for the current GOP, I consider myself a conservative and am an official member of no party.

But if our new poster wants to parry a bit I can rise to the challenge.

All concerned should have a look at opensecrets.org for the best overview of money in politics.

Tacitus2

LarryHart said...

Anonymous said...

Any chance of a reasonable discussion seems to have gone out the window the moment this Tacitus 2 person started talking.


No, Tacitus2 IS a reasonable conservative, and Dr Brin has clearly welcomed his informed opinion here many times.

Although I often find myself on the opposite side of an argument from him, the notion that his presence brings an argument to a halt is (to quote Charles Emerson Winchester) ab-ZURD.

Stefan Jones said...

There was a deeply dismaying piece on NPR this morning.

"Jihadi" groups are overjoyed about the "Time Square Mosque" controversy.

They're using it as proof of their claim that Americans hate Islam.

Perhaps this is just what the pols and pundits wanted to happen. Ron Paul weighs in on opposition to "The Ground Zero Mosque:"

In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.

They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars. . . Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam -- the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. . . .

The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. . . . . This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.


That is a breathtakingly direct and concise description of the matter. Who'da'thunk?

There's a video out there of the demonstrations over the "Ground Zero Mosque." Yes, the protesters are mindless racist goons. Fox News and the hate radio crowd groomed and delivered them right where they were needed. Thanks a lot, guys! You'll help the GOP win a lot of spots in November's election, and make the country even more crazy and divided.

David Brin said...

I agree that "Anonymous" carries a whiff of memory of past unpleasantness. I allow anonymous postings, but they should never be used for rancor or argument. Give the guy you are yelling at a name to yell back at! Even a pseudonym.

Though... Tacitus? Really?By all means bring up hypocrisies of the left... and back them up...

...but don't expect anyone here ... or very many Americans with post graduate degrees... or a fraction of thinkers at all... not to avow that the right has simply gone jibbering insane.

Where I seldom get any support is over whether the people fomenting the insanity are deliberate - or inadvertent - traitors.

Ple-e-e-e-ese go to Youtube and watch how Jon Stewart ties it all together.

http://current.com/1lafn4c

He was on! At last.

Jonathan S. said...

I am saddened, however, by the comments in that link, following the article about Stewart's story. Every single post I was able to stand reading that purported to "refute" the story went straight for the ad hominem attack, against either Stewart or another poster. Never once did they address the actual content, or the Faux News tactic of using vague generalities to link subjects to "terror".

It makes me ever more grateful for the (general) level of discourse here...

rewinn said...

At the risk of being Pollyannaish, it seems to me that the increasingly rapid switch from one shrill hate-filled accusation to another suggests that our intellectual antibodies are learning to react.

Remember Brietbart? His first little editted video trick with O'Keefe brought down ACORN; his next one netted O'Keefe a misdeameanor conviction; and his Sherrod trick was completely discredited within a few days.

Lord, I remember Nixon. When HE did a dirty trick, it STUCK! Those were the days!

The Park51 Islamic Community Center (or, more properly, "Fox News Mosque" - since a major backer is part-owner of NewsCorp) is not a new idea; it got shuffled to the top of the deck, perhaps, because the other Scary Dark-Skinned People stories were wearing out (remember the Guy With A Stick At A Polling Place?).

I have no doubt that the Aristocracy has an unlimited supply of these, but they used to last longer before being debunked and derided. Perhaps the fever pitch with which the corporate media leaps from gay marriage (Iowa has not collapsed?) to illegal immigrants (crime is DOWN in Arizona?) to Park 51 (Glenn Beck said nice things to the Imam on Good Morning America back in 2006?) to whatever-comes-next ...

... is a good sign.

Ilithi Dragon said...

That or it's the sign of a run-away reaction increasing to a catastrophic meltdown... >.> But, then, it's a dreary day outside and I'm in a gloomy mood... (brightened only by my new laptop -squee- )

Rob Perkins said...

That "Team Evil or Team Stupid" bit was tremendously funny.

rewinn said...

This may make you smile:

"While the "Ground Zero Mosque" site is two blocks away from Ground Zero, rap mogul Russell Simmons' apartment is across the street!

This week he put various religious symbols in his windows to support religious freedom.

Now everyone near Ground Zero can see towering symbols of all the world's wonderful religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and whatever the other ones are. (Witchcraft?)"

see photo and text

Stefan Jones said...

"Coexist" bumper stickers are a common sight here in Portland.

I just saw the repeat of The Daily Show. They really rocked.

Stupid or Evil? It's really hard to tell. Perhaps it is both. Foreign Owned Fox News personnel may have achieved doublethink, the ability of Ingsoc Party members to simultaneously and fervently believe two contradictory ideas.

'dumfustr': Man, there are so many possibilities!

mythusmage said...

Anonymous,

You have gone on and on about this rotten, nasty people spending gobs of money to spread their message around. I have a question for you; so?

Rights are not limited to those you like. Rights are not limited to those you agree with. Rights extend to everyone who wishes to make use of them, even when they use those rights to expound in ways you don't like. The right to get your message across is not limited to those you find pleasing, but also to those who hate passionately, for to do other wise would be to make free speech a lie.

Would I support the Devil's right to speak out? I would. For were the Devil himself to be banned from speaking his piece then my right to speak as I chose would be imperiled as well. For when you find cause to deny one the right to speak his mind it becomes that much easier to deny that right to others you may disagree with.

So Rove, in you mind, is a foul and despicable beast. So what? I say let him have his say and then get on with your life. Just because he's spoken doesn't mean you have to agree with him, or that others are going to blindly agree with him. He can spend all the damn money he wants, it is still up to us to agree or disagree and no amount of lucre is going to change that fact.

Don't think you can deny others a voice simply because they say things you don't like. Our society, our culture is not set up for that. Let people you hate have their say, speak out on your own behalf and be on the guard against those who would deny you the right to speak.

Tony Fisk said...

I have just gone ogled 'ignoramus'

n: An ignorant or stupid person

Yup! Gretchen got it wrong!

Team evil or Team Stupid. Does Team Contrarian have a third option?

melsh: ...OMG Go ogle it!!

Tony Fisk said...

What would happen if the Ground Zero room of contention were to sell bagels?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Mythusmage

"You have gone on and on about this rotten, nasty people spending gobs of money to spread their message around. I have a question for you; so?"

I have an issue with this as well, I would defend your (or their) right to free speech
I am not sure I defend their right to use a megaphone!

By using "gobs of money" they are interfering with MY right to free speech! by drowning me out!

By using gobs of money and hiding behind others they are effectively lying to me - by putting their words in others mouths

The truth - the whole truth - and nothing but the truth

Free speech is very important but money is not speech

You are not permitted to buy votes
Should you be able to buy speech?

I don't know how to fix this but I don't think it is a "right"

And until it is fixed I believe I should know who paid for "paid speech"

David Brin said...

Mythusmage, while I find the strident tone of "anonymous" offensive, he is perfectly okay to rage about the way Fox & etc are stocked to the brim with partisan shriekmeisters who have fomented culture war and politics-to-the-death upon the country that I love.

You conflate their RIGHT to speak with their practice of pouring millions via cryptic channels into campaigns of directed lies, obfuscation and ruination. For example, to scream that "Obamacare = socialism" when the bill was based almost entirely on the 1994 Republican Alternative Health Care Plan isn't just verbal legedermain... it is calumny. And that is an example of the mild stuff.

Answer me this. Was it tragic that, in 1860, the plantation owners squelched all but a few dissenting newspapers in the old south, then proceeded to spew lies about Lincoln's intentions, scaring up a frenzy of oath-breaking that entirely skipped the simple step of NEGOTIATING with him, before resorting to secession? A giant national tragedy, fomented by rich, manipulative liars who were (we now see clearly) wrong about almost absolutely everything, from top to bottom.

And you don't see the parallel? Really? By complaining about that, I am not claiming all plantation owners should have been silenced. But just listen to the radio while driving through the South today... you hear Rush and Beck and radical preachers, crying out VERY similar things about Obama!

Hey, it almost worked once.....

mythusmage said...

David,

Of course it was tragic that parties in the ante-bellum South suppressed free speech in favor of their belligerent spiel. However, note that they suppressed speech. I do not see how that equates to what certain parties are doing today, which is expressing themselves.

So radio is largely given over to right wing speech. Television in contrast is largely given over to left wing speech, and the Web is open to anybody with something to say and access to a computer. I don't see how the actions of long dead planters have any bearing on what is happening today.

Free speech is not just for those you agree with.

mythusmage said...

Duncan,

When you can't speak over the noise, learn to speak under it.

Nobody has the sort of money needed to monopolize all avenues of expression, there are ways of getting your voice heard, and even heeded. Blogging for one. And don't forget that just because somebody is blaring his message all over the place doesn't not guarantee people are going to listen to him.

mythusmage said...

David, (just thought of this)

The fact Republicans once supported a health care plan much like the one recently enacted into law does not mean it was the right thing to do in the first place. One thing I learned a long time ago is that people have the right to change their mind. Agree or disagree with their decision, that is their decision to make.

The most you can do is try to persuade them that your way is better; whether you succeed or fail is up to your powers of persuasion and your command of the facts.

I support free speech for all, even those I disagree with. That I shall hold to no matter what befalls me.

Duncan Cairncross said...

"When you can't speak over the noise, learn to speak under it."

When they won't let you into the voting booths paint your face white and sneak in anyway

Hypnos said...

"The fact Republicans once supported a health care plan much like the one recently enacted into law does not mean it was the right thing to do in the first place."

True. And Republicans could have said as much. They could have laid down the reasons why they thought this reform wouldn't work.

But they didn't. Instead, they choose to lie about it, claiming it was socialist - which means that the Republican party in 1994 was socialist, or that "socialist" is being used as a scare-word devoided of any meaning. In both cases, no relevant critique of healthcare reform was offered.

Same with Global Warming. 50% of Americans or something like that don't believe it is happening or that it is anthropogenic. That is another lie. Anthropogenic Global Warming is a scientific fact. To say otherwise is to lie.

These people are not expressing opinions or counter-arguments - they are deliberately lying and misinforming about the most important issue of the 21st century.

I also think free speech is a fundamental right - I just don't think it extends to deliberate, bold-faced lying.

Ian said...

"If you believe that the proposed "mosque" in NYC is a terrorist recruiting center and a setting for launcing hate screeds against the west, then yes, it is in bad taste to rub our American noses in it."

If any of the claims abnout terror links and terrorist recruiting had any credibility, what difference would the location make?

why is it soem on the amercan rightr are in effect saying is okay to raise funds for terrorsists and to recruit terrorists provided you do it outside of lower manhattan.

Jacob said...

Re: mythusmage @ Free Speech

I'd like to directly address your views on Free Speech. I believe in Freedom of Speech. However, there are practical limits to all freedoms. The most classic example is yelling Bomb in a Theater. In this case, Free Speech is used for self service (amusement or other motive) in a way that is harmful to people. We should limit the expression of Free Speech where it is harmful to society.

Now hold on a minute! I wouldn't agree to that statement without further explanation. It just seems like a dangerous idea. A marketplace of ideas is a wonderful thing. I would not limit ideas or philosophies. Conservative (and Neocon) ideas and concepts should not only be allowed but encouraged. Conversely, the manner in which we exercise our Free Speech should be watched. Namely those that alarm the public out of proportion to the danger they represent. Also, freedom of expression should have some correlation to reality when we get to media.

Where Freedom of Speech is used to make people irrational, it is harmful to society. People can be manipulated and we should guard against coercion. We should encourage all ideas.

I want Freedom of Speech for the same reasons you do. I also want how we express our ideas to be limited because of the negative effects to society. I'll post again with some examples of how I would limit Free Speech. But I wanted to clearly separate those opinions from this post. We should use democratic principles to collectively agree to if and how we should limit Free Speech. This post was about why we should be considering limits in the first place.

CulturalEngineer said...

Interesting article today from the physics arXiv blog:

Quantum Entanglement Can Be A Measure Of Free Will, Say Physicists

I've have had a strong belief that this was the case for quite a while.

If one wants to look for "God in the Machine" that's some food for thought!

Though the way I look at it... what it really means is...

It's ALL UP TO US!

The future of this planet... as well as whether 'consciousness' will expand in the universe generally...

Is up to consciousness itself.

But there are many consciousnesses here? So then it's vital that collective decision systems operate well... and further that the decision capabilities of individuals regarding group action be attended to.

Politics will be the tool that consciousness must rely on for its expansion.

Actually the problems lie in the 'meta-political' world... the mechanisms and systems by which collective decisions are made and implemented.

Constitutions, election laws, voter rights, campaign finance... etc. are ALL "META-political" issues.

There will be no meaningful progress in political decision until Meta-political problems are addressed.

It doesn't matter WHO you elect if other faulty mechanisms foreclose the possibility of good decisions being made and implemented.

I believe we may well be in just that sort of position.

Capability Enables Responsibility

"A Citizen's responsibility in an area is directly proportional to his or her ability to have an effect. Without improvement in mechanisms of meaningful involvement, we will see a continued growth in apathy, frustration and ultimately a resort to less healthy forms of expression."

Ilithi Dragon said...

I have a right to voice my opinion.

I do NOT have a right to walk into a crowded airport and scream, "BOMB!"

I do not have a right to grab a megaphone and stand outside of a shop I don't like and scream through it in protest of that shop until my lungs pop out. Even if I have legitimate grievances, I do not have that right.

I do not have the right to go around lying to everyone and trying to pass off untruths as reality.

Additionally, if you hear something repeated with sufficient volume, from sufficient sources, with sufficient frequency, it WILL start to sink in, truth or not, your awareness of its truth or not.

Billions of dollars spent on multiple massive campaigns to convince people that lies are truth, that facts are false, that reality is fiction and that fantasy is real, is NOT an exercise in freedom of speech. It is a deliberate campaign of subversion that is NOT protected by the First Amendment, and to discount or ignore or deny its effects, on everyone, is absurd to the point of insanity.

Jacob said...

Example: Big concepts...

"Government is too Big! Lower our Taxes!" This is a rallying cry behind half of the conservative movement. It is also complete bullshit. It is a tool of manipulation used to gain office completely disconnected with reality. That in and of itself is harmful to society.

Now the ideas behind it are worth considering. Would we be better off if society made individual decisions rather than collective (government) ones? We should let democratic principles determine the answer. Personally, I'm very very interested in fiscal responsibility. The correct way to lower taxes is to look at specific services and ask "Do I feel that society needs this service? Are we getting our money's worth? How can I more efficiently accomplish that goal?" By doing this, I become a part of the process for potentially lowering taxes and reducing the size of government. If Conservative media were targeted on specific services to reduce, remove, and improve, I would applaud and support them.

I personally, would be happy if society via Government would regulate Media to challenge them on details. Be it Fox or MSNBC. You've been expressing a concept for a week now. If you don't show your plan potentially accomplish it, we're going to slap a disclaimer on the screen which says "They don't know how to actually accomplish this!" in big flashy letters. Ok, Ok I just get a happy feeling thinking about it. They should probably find a better way to inform people they are being used.

----------------------------------
Example: Inaccurate Statements

"Obama wasn't born in America." Lets assume we don't know if this statement is true for false. Media should A) do research before making a statement or B) make it very clear that their early reporting is based on rumor not realty. Once a statement (through research) is proved to be false, all Media should spend at least as much time devoted to correcting said mistake as they spend informing the public incorrectly.

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

I don't want to limit Freedom of Speech as it pertains to ideas. I'm happy for any idea to compete for support: from Individual to Elections to Public Policy. I do want to see limits on bullshit that harms public discourse.

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

Ilithi Dragon speaks truth about the reality. Once you understand and agree with him, you can start to make suggestions about public policy that address Freedom of Speech.

As a fan of the ideal of Freedom of Speech, how can we implement it in the real world?

Tacitus2 said...

OK, lets try and fit lots of stuff into the character limits!
What we "should" be discussing politically is the current state of the economy, and whether the actions of the party currently in power warrant their continued stewardship (mid terms are less about foreign affairs, but that's fair game too). Has the stimulus been wisely spent and has it had the desired effects? Are the pending effects of health care reform fully understood? How do we reduce unemployment? These are areas where reasonable people can, and likely must, disagree, but they are the real questions, the ones that will impact our futures and our children's futures.

Of course, what dominates the news instead is the fake mosque controversy. And Snooki. And next in line will be other predictable fluff that I will not expose you to gratuitously.

So, my comments that the media is letting us down, and that money is involved seem to have set off one of our more voluable posters, who put several questions to me. As regular readers know, I take a swing at any question put to me in somewhat civil tones....at least if I can figure out what the question was! A few of the later points were getting a bit soft about the edges-exposure to excessive heat will do that-but I can summarize roughly:

1. Are there progressive billionares other that Soros funding Democratic causes.
2.Is there a Progressive equivalent to Fox and its conservative backers.
3.Are there Democratic operatives running media operations,.
4.Do I not agree that the Palin and Gingrich quotes prove that they are very bad people indeed.

My set up for this is running a bit long, so I will cut here and put up a few musings in the next installment.

Keep in mind that I am not trying to convert any who see the world differently. I don't want to do so, and think your perspectives are important. But alternative points of view can be useful, if only to reduce cognitive dissonance when the world does not appear to make sense from the narrower perspective.

Tacitus Pugnacius

Anonymous said...

Here we go.
Forbes publishes an annual list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. In rough order they are Gates, Buffet, Ellison,various folks named Walton, Bloomberg, the notorious Koch, Brin (Sergey, sorry),Page, Dell, Ballmer, Soros, Bren (Donald, sorry again), Allen.
You can see the political donations of most all of these folks here:

bigbucks

Another way to look at it is a power ranking...what have the dollars accomplished in the ol' won-lost column?

feel the power!

A few observations. Newsmeat is a silly name, but their sources seem to check with places like opensecrets.org I like the tabulated form, and that it looks over a long time frame.

Notice that Soros outspends Koch, and that on the power rating Babs Streisand applies her Gucci clad pump to the Koch tucchus as well!

More seriously, notice the presence of media oriented Democratic donors in positions 1,2,5,12,14,17,23,28.

Lots of other rich-n-prominent types seem to be cheapskates!

A note on Soros. Many of his donations are in the nonpartisan "issues" category. I think this is a mixture of his domestic politics Moveon.org, Center for American Progress,etc; and his work in Central Europe, which seems rather laudable to me at least.

I think this goes some distance towards the first couple of queries raised.

Of course, there may be under the counter political donations out there. That's what we have a Federal Elections Commision and a Justice Department for. Richest man on earth is a non US citizen who owns a slice of the NY Times. (rumors he is seeking controlling interest are being denied).

If you want to see the political donations of a wide range of media types there is a link for that at the top of the Newsmeat link. Dear Abby....who knew?

Going back to OpenSecrets.org here is a table of the Heavy Hitters...organizations most actively contributing to the political fest. This is a running tally since 1990, but the 2010 data look about the same:

small unmarked bills?

Notice that of the top 15, there are 3 who toss money on both sides of the fence and 12 who feed the donkey! Some data suggest that the Obama small donors mythos was ginned up a bit.

Opensecrets also links to 527 organization funding, which I commend to your attention. Equal opportunity scoudrels, regards 527 recipients #1 and 3 go conservative, #2 and 4 progressive.

Palin and Gingrich quotes? Look 'em up, I can't do it all for you. Always track back to original source material and trim off the commentary where you can.

Best wishes of the journalistic Silly Season

Tacitus Pedagougus

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Has the stimulus been wisely spent and has it had the desired effects?


I know you are in the middle of a long response, so I'm just going to address a very small tangent here.

Perhaps you disagree with my assessment here, but this is how I see the roles of the two parties on this issue.

Republicans are against stimulus and strongly favor "fiscal discipline" (I put that in quotes because tax cuts and defense spending get free passes, but fiscal discipline is nonetheless their rhetoricical excuse for not engaging in anti-depression spending).

Democrats are in favor of stimulus spending, but in order to get Republicans and Blue Dogs on board, they've somewhat embraced the GOP line to the extent that the stimulus was not large enough and too much of it was tax cuts rather than FDR-type public-works spending. As a result, the stimulus didn't work as well as it might have.

So when you ask "Has the stimulus been wisely spent and has it had the desired effects?", the answer that seems correct to me is that no, it hasn't been spent wisely or had the desired effects because it was too timid in the face of the opposition. It should have been a MORE progressive/liberal response, not the opposite. Yet, the campaign rhetoric is already hot and heavy into the meme that a "No" response to your question implies that the Democrats deserve to lose office (maybe true) and that the Republicans should be put back in charge (false).

Which to me is still like voting for Sideshow Bob because you blame opponent Mayor Quimby for letting Sideshow Bob out of prison.

Robert said...

I think I've realized a flaw in Republican reasoning behind tax cuts. They seem to believe that blanket tax cuts are the panacea for what ails our nation's economy. But they're wrong. Blanket tax cuts just give more money to the rich and don't encourage them to do anything with that money. Thus we need a specific directed tax cut. And my idea is aimed at businesses.

Specifically? A payroll tax cut. All new full-time employees will have a payroll tax cut of 50% for the first full year they're employed, reduced to 30% for the second year, 20% for the third year, and 10% for the fourth year, before finally ending. If a company lays off the new employee (compared to firing them for a specific reason such as theft), they are required to pay back the tax savings they had received.

In addition, companies that deliberately lay off employees and then either rehire them or hire other people to take their place will not qualify for the tax cut.

My thoughts is that this will encourage more small business owners to start hiring as they'll not spend as much on the employee, and more larger companies will start hiring as well as they've been waiting before hiring anyone due to the economy being rough (due to the fact no one is hiring).

In addition, the bill should be sent through as-is. No amendments. No adding it onto a different bill to get another bill passed. Just let it go through Congress on its own so everyone knows precisely what it is and what it will do. And then we'll see what Republicans and Democrats are made of by their voting preferences.

As an aside, this tax cut won't "cost" anything as people who are unemployed are paying lower taxes anyway. It will have an end-result of increasing hiring, reducing unemployment rates, and hopefully getting the economy back on track.

Thoughts?

-------

There may be some good news in the Gulf of Mexico: studies reveal that Gulf organisms are devouring the oil released at a much greater rate than expected, without causing a massive dead zone of oxygen deprived water. Here's a second news article on the story. If this is true and can be verified, it's good news for lessening the final impact of the oil spill (and some needed good news for the Obama administration, who's gotten oil all over their faces from BP's screw up).

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Jacob said...

Hi LarryHart,

I agree with you. I blame the Republicans for much of the failure of government. But I don't think that Democrats are doing a good job. They seem inept to respond to the irrational environment that has been created in America.

My answer for Tacitus's unlisted question is no the Democrats haven't done a good enough job to stay in office. But God help us if we replace them with Republicans of today. Give me some Tacitus style Independents, Goldwater Republicans, sane Libertarians, or better versions of Democrats.

Jacob said...

Hi Robert,

I love the part about sending it through "As is", but then I think everything should work that way.

What type of payroll taxes are you talking about? The Pay As you Go withholdings or the tax that some Employers pay for each worker?

When I think of new Fulltime Employees (late teens to early twenties), I don't think they are aware of or care much about Tax Policy. I am dubious as to which if any Tax breaks actually stimulate the economy. I think it would be worth some trials though to test. What would be a large enough testing ground to try the idea? I don't think we do enough "lets try it and see" experiments on the local and state level.

Robert said...

I'm talking about the tax that employers pay, not that employees pay. An employee tax cut is beneficial for the economy as a whole, but often has a smaller effect as the amount of savings for employees isn't that high. Nor does it stimulate hiring.

If I remember the business education texts I've read correctly, businesses pay taxes along with employees for the employee's income. I'm not sure if they're matching or exceeding the amount employees pay, and I might be wrong on the specifics. I do know that employers are paying taxes for each employee they have. Thus, reduce that tax for new employees. Companies then have an incentive to hire new employees, who can then start paying bills and buying products, which gets the economy slowly moving once again.

Rob H.

Jonathan S. said...

I'm a bit confused about Republicans who claim that they want to "run this country like a business," yet campaign on the idea of extending the Bush tax cuts on the highest brackets.

The United States government is prohibited from making a profit on anything they sell, as I understand it (one reason why NASA doesn't just sell launch space at a profit and use that to fund other programs); therefore, the only income allowed for government programs is taxation.

So, do these people honestly believe that when you run a business, if your expenses begin to exceed your income, the best course of action is to fire your lowest-paid employees, give your executives a bonus, and stop selling your most expensive products to your wealthiest clients?

Well, I'll give Bush a pass on this - his record as a businessman suggests that this might indeed strike him as the thing to do - but really, does this seem the wisest economic course to most Republican businessmen?

Ilithi Dragon said...

Jonathan,

Add in a golden parachute bail-out (as in bailing out of a crashing plane, not the wallstreet bail-out) before the whole things smashes into the ground, and isn't that exactly how some super-business executives pretty much run things?

rewinn said...

I think we can make a principled distinction between the speech of human beings and that of nonhuman entities.

We humans, for all our faults and frequent wrongheadedness, can do only limited harm to each other because we have human appetites and feelings and, at the worse, eventually die of old age. Nonhuman entities don't.

At this point, the standard rejoinder is, "Oh, so you want to limit Boeing's right to buy ads supporting Patty Murray, eh? Well, what about the unions? Huh?" to which the obvious reply is that unions are associations of persons, much like political parties, whereas commercial corporations are associations of capital, that is to say, money. Money is not human, and that's the problem. (But if you want to impose equal requirements on all organisations, fine: that is to me an acceptable compromise ... and it tests the sincerity of the objection. Corporatists never take the compromise.)

Frankly, I don't see that the humans are winning this one any more than I see the bacteria winning. But I'm willing to have hope.

David Brin said...

Mythusmage, you are welcome here... we need guys like you to stir the pot! Nevertheless, you are a real twister!

You refuse to see the parallel of a region whose population is in-effect monopolized with narrow political messages, leading to bilious hatred and culture war. In pre 1860 south, not all the opposition papers were "driven" out of business or "suppressed." Others failed because the plantation owners exercised their free speech right to "speak" by subsidizing their favorite presses till the ones they did not like simply vanished.

"Television in contrast is largely given over to left wing speech,"

O cripes. How does the koolaid taste?

"The fact Republicans once supported a health care plan much like the one recently enacted into law does not mean it was the right thing to do in the first place. One thing I learned a long time ago is that people have the right to change their mind."

No that is precisely what you have NOT learned. The parallel of Obamacare to the old GOP plan does not mean it was best.

But it DOES require all goppers who are honest to actually engage in discourse and negotiation, and not screeching "socialism!" Nor marching to the most rigid, lockstep party discipline ever seen in the history of the United States.

By adopting the 94 GOP plan, OBAMA WAS REACHING OUT! But his had was bitten and NO effort was made to negotiate. Face it, this one example proves which side has gone radical crazy and which side is actively trying to negotiate.

Oh, re Anthropogenic Global Warming, there is a simple answer. Wagers. I herebye offer Mythusmage $100 if the theory is proved wrong by -- shall we say 2015? Will he (in his real name) bet the reverse? 2020?

In effect, the deniers are making such bets, given the history of the very similar tactics used to deny that tobacco was dangerous.

David Brin said...

Tacitus2 asks:
1. Are there progressive billionares other that Soros funding Democratic causes.
2.Is there a Progressive equivalent to Fox and its conservative backers.
3.Are there Democratic operatives running media operations,.
4.Do I not agree that the Palin and Gingrich quotes prove that they are very bad people indeed.

Well, of course you are trying to erect a logical edifice to show that dems might be "just as bad".

Thankfully, your intelligence and koolaid aversion won't let you follow the Fox-propeled party line that "Democrats are EVEN WORSE!" That is the essential boil down of the Tea Party line.

"Yes, the Bushites and neocons were corrupt incompetents who damaged every single metric of national health... but watch all these razzle-dazzles! The democrats are even worse!" That is the root underlying all the "socialist" and "muslim" and birther and (insane) deficit-hawk stuff. And notice the deeply poisonous nature of that line. It means Blue America cannot be anything less than completely evil. Yep, civil war.

But Tacitus2 is like the millions of Ostriches out there, who know the bushites were either near-traitors or the real thing... and they know that the dems aren't monsters. As conservatives, they cling to old loyalties. So they offer comparisons that may soften their sense that it is time to switch sides.

Honorably asked, so I'll answer:

1. Yes there are rich democratic donors. What very few of them do is act in an organized and conspiratorial manner, like the Kochs and Murdoch and Ailes. Sure, Soros does, a bit, though ineffectually. But dig it. they are democrats! Hence, getting them to organize, especially in secret, is like herding cats/

2. No. Period.

3. Democratic... cough cough OPERATIVES? Um... may I remind you they are ... DEMOCRATS? Waffling, talkative, hand-wringing, disorganized, waffling, and more waffling... um, DEMOCRATS? Yeesh! Look up what Will Rogers said about that.

Look at what happened to Air America. Cripes, Obama couldn't even get it together enough to appoint a special prosecutor, given a million justifications of probable cause! Terrified of seeming like an angry black man, he keeps offering what's left of his hand to shake and be friends. Sheeit.

4. Sure, a few quotes alone don't prove them to be bad people. Palin's utter confidence that I am damned to hell. THAT proves it to me. Gingrich dissolving the Office of Science and Technology Assessment and beginning the neocon era of "if I assert it, that makes it so!" That was evil

Robert said...

Dr. Brin, I don't suppose you know any Congresscritterfolk well enough to suggest my payroll tax cut idea to, do you? While I'm sure the final product would be somewhat different, I do think that a tax cut specifically targeted on corporate and small business hiring would be an excellent way of stimulating job hiring, and in turn improving the economy. It would also have the benefit of drawing in Republicans who claim to love tax cuts; if they refuse to vote for it because it's not expansive enough, then they're shooting themselves in the foot and revealing they're only for increasing the amount of money their rich benefactors end up with.

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

Robert, my understanding of employer taxation is that it's FICA contribution is roughly equal to the employee's. If tax relief came as not collecting FICA on the first 10~15K, and adding 10~15K to the cap might make adding employees more palatable.
Another angle on the apparent civil war 2.0, the first one was followed by a vast increase in the power of the federal government, even more than the previous power play in the Jackson administration. Makes one wonder on the sincerity of any small government noises.

David Smelser said...

Robert, do you mean something like the "Hire Now Tax Cut Act of 2010" which is already in effect.

The act, amends the Internal Revenue Code to:
"(1) exempt for-profit and nonprofit employers from social security taxes in 2010 for new employees who are hired after February 3, 2010, and before January 1, 2011, and who certify that they have not worked more than 40 hours during the last 60 days; and

(2) allow an increase in the general business tax credit for the retention of such employees for at least one year at specified wage levels. Appropriates to the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund under title II of the Social Security Act amounts necessary to cover any reduction in revenues resulting from the tax exemptions provided by this Act."

Summary taken from www.opencongress.org

Robert said...

Yes, something along those lines but focusing on the Payroll taxes instead of Social Security. I wasn't aware of that tax cut, and I suspect a number of small business owners are also unaware of it; perhaps Team Obama should mention it to try and encourage companies to start hiring?

Rob H .

mythusmage said...

Mr Brin,

You have become too important for the likes of me.

Tacitus2 said...

Mythusmage;

Just take an occasional break, I know I do!

Enough politics for now.

Tacitus2

ell said...

If we don't allow freedom of speech, how will we know when we are wrong?

rewinn said...

@ell - who is advocating against free speech?

(Looks around. Sees no hands raised)

I *do* advocate for a recognition of the difference between human and non-human entities. Humans are quite proficient at pointing out one another's errors (just wait around here a bit and you'll see ... .)

In all things there is a balance, and for the mice to argue against belling the cat may be a noble gesture but it somewhat misses the point.

Especially when the cats are creations of the mice.

Tony Fisk said...

We know we are never wrong, for we make our own reality.

Speaking of which (although changing gears a bit): something's going on in N. Korea.

Ilithi Dragon said...

N.Korea is either posturing for attention (again), or they're about to go really, really stupid. Their high-end soldier's diet is less than 1000 calories a day, and you can pull up Google Earth satellite photos of their airfields, where you can see their MiG-17s and MiG-25s (which constitute the majority of their air force), sitting in pieces along their runways.

If N.Korea pulls a really stupid and starts a war, I give it 3 days, a week at the outset, before its over, with South Korean, American and Japanese troops steamrolling the N.Korean troops (the ones who don't defect in exchange for a proper meal, that is).

The only way it would last much longer than that is if China pulls a really, really, REALLY stupid and backs N.Korea (personally, I'd lay odds on them sending troops in from the north to meet ours, and using that to get a prominent role in the integration of the two countries).

Tony Fisk said...

It could well be a lead-up to a military parade. One report suggests Kim Jung Il is on a trip to China with heir apparent, possibly to announce the succession.

Oh well, I daresay someone's on it.

David Brin said...

Ilithi says: "If N.Korea pulls a really stupid and starts a war, I give it 3 days, a week at the outset, before its over..."

Depends. Can we destroy the N Korean military as an effective force in a week? Sure.

Could we land some helicopter squads in Pyongyang in a week?, yep.

Could huge convoys of troops wend their way through narrow mountain passes, sabotaged by die-hard fanatics? Nope.

Would it take only a week to dig out the few survivors, in downtown Seoul, from the hundreds of thousands of artillery shells that will rain down upon it, within minutes of war breaking out, from the thousands of tubes buried into reverse slopes on the commie side of the armistice line?

Not a chance.

Let there be no mistake. The good transition will be painful. Unless it can be arranged to get rid of 1,000 very very bad guys first.

button said...

Ilithi: with South Korean, American and Japanese troops steamrolling the N.Korean troops

Japanese troops? Do they actually have any deployed there or plans for doing so?

Sounds implausible, given history.

Ilithi Dragon said...

While the Japanese cannot constitutionally have a 'military', their 'defense force' is one of the best-funded armed forces in the world (iirc, they come in 6th, and only a pittance below the couple nations slotted above them), and they have strong alliances with the U.S. and South Korea, and of course their own interests in the region. I doubt we'd see any kind of boots-on-the-ground force coming anywhere close to the force contributions of pretty much every other nation involved, but the Japanese Defense Force would most certainly be involved in any serious conflict on the peninsula.

Dr. Brin:

Yes, the clean-up would be the nasty part, and the threat to any S. Korean targets along the border within range of N. Korean artillery.

I'm not so sure that the mop-up of N. Korean insurgency would be that much of a nightmare, though, if handled correctly. Obviously, if bungled, it could be another Afghanistan/Iraq/Vietnam, but I think a smart operation would make it much more like Bosnia than the aforementioned.

I wouldn't send trucks up mountain roads, at least not unless I was sure the area was secure. I'd seize all functional airports and seaports, and establish well-fortified positions around them and major population centers, with the positions too far away to be directly supplied by an air or seaport supplied by helicopter along secured and heavily-patrolled corridors. From these fortified positions, I would distribute food to the population. Lots of food, and other aid. I would establish hospitals within these fortified positions (incorporating existing facilities where practical), and give free medical care to all locals (after a reasonable security screening to get to the medical wing of the base). I would also immediately hire locals for various CCC/WPA-style 'make-work' projects to repair war damage and bring their infrastructure into the 21st Century. I would also work closely with the S.Korean government on projects to re-unite families split by the 38th Parallel, and other integration projects. My whole goal would be to win the general populace, and to also tempt any remaining soldiers with food, medicine and employment. I would also let the S.Korean Gov't. and military take a leading role. The S.Korean military is high up their in the size and funding ranks, and it will be their country, after all.

It certainly wouldn't be easy, of course, and clean-up wouldn't be solved overnight, but I don't think it would be a nightmare scenario if handled smartly.

But the clean-up isn't really the point. The point is that the N.Korean government would be toppled inside of a week. Kimmy and any heirs and much of the N.Korean leadership would be dead, captured or driven into mountain caves or bunkers in days. The man may be crazy, but I doubt he's stupid. If he starts a war, everything he has is gone in a week, and I think he will be more concerned with maintaining power and a facade of importance than inflicting damage on his enemies in a war he could never win.

I agree that the nastiest part of any potential war with N.Korea is the threat to S.Korean civilian targets from N.Korean artillery. Neutralizing them would definitely be one of the first-action targets.

Tim H. said...

Any of you read Clarke & Pohl's "The last theorem"? It had an elegant solution for North Korea, geographically limited EMP attack. Wonder how close that is to reality?

Ilithi Dragon said...

(continued - damn character limits...)

But I also suspect that S.Korea is not quite as helpless before N.Korean artillery strikes today as they were in the past. In the end of 2008, Northrop Grumman introduced the Firestrike platform, a production-grade, solid-state battlefield laser system. It featured 15 kW laser modules that, so long as they had a power supply for the laser and the cooling systems, could be switched on and fired continuously for an effectively indefinite period of time. The system has been tested with up to 7 modules (though it can technically support more), for a combined laser firepower of 105 kW continuous output (with an indefinite sustained fire rate, that gives it a sustained firepower compairable to a .30-caliber machinegun to a low-end .50-caliber machinegun). While it would undoubtedly be effective against soft targets and flammable targets, its primary use is against artillery shells and missiles. The effective performance specs, and the number built/deployed is classified, so I don't know how many we have available to deploy, nor how many would need to be deployed to cover the 38th Parallel, but the unit could easily be mounted in the back of a truck, or on an APC, and while I don't see us selling them to the S.Koreans just yet, a net of U.S.-operated Firestrikes deployed along the 38th Parallel would go a long way to reducing the N.Korean artillery threat (and depending on their performance/availability, possibly neutralizing it all together).

But, again, the damage N.Korea could do to S.Korea isn't the point. Sure, N.Korea could do a lot of damage, and Kimmy knows that, but he also has to know that, for however much damage he could inflict in a war, it would still be over for him in less than a week.

Unless he or his heir pull a really stupid, or their crazy manages to override their sense of self-preservation and their desire to maintain power, I don't see N.Korea intentionally starting a war any time soon, whatever their posturing and sabre-rattling.

Now, all that said, I'm not going to turn my back to a crazy man, nor assume that Kimmy couldn't possibly pull a really stupid or extra crazy and shoot himself in the face by starting a war. Due precautions are in order (and immediate deployment of whatever Firestrike systems we have available to the 38th Parallel should be a priority, imo, if it isn't already).

CulturalEngineer said...

Great discussion here... so naturally I'll barge in on a topic rather peripheral to that but nevertheless directly related to wild speculations about how science, politics and society intersect:

Yesterday arXiv had an interesting piece on how quantum entanglement supports the existence of 'free will'... (link in previous comment)

Today arXiv has a piece...

Fine Structure Constant Varies With Direction in Space, Says New Data

Very speculative... (but that's the food for imagination)... but if data over time confirms this, it has interesing implications for the "Anthropic" principal regarding the delicate balance of constants necessary for the evolution of life.

If constants aren't... (that is they vary over time and/or space)...

Isn't it interesting to speculate whether life... and especially consciousness itself...

May influence the value of certain constants?

Decisions... decisions...

are at the root of existence itself.

To be or not to be?

Is this the question the universe asks itself?

Tony Fisk said...

The Idea of North...

Tacitus2 said...

I have a friend who is the director of a good sized international aid agency. He has been to all the bad places...Darfur, Myanmar, etc. He says his visit to N.Korea was the creepiest ever. It is as advertised.

I will say this for the N.K.s, they have the most consistent foreign policy of any nation on earth:

Vigorous Simultaneous Rattling of the Saber and the Tin Cup.

The current uptick in same is predictable....US elections= Notice Us! Also, Jimmy Carter is visiting, gosh, wonder if that has any relevance. Really, for all the worthy things James Earl C. has done (more post pres. than during his term) he is becoming a liability. I think he is showing his age.

Best thing the US can do is say nothing. I am pretty sure that the thousands of guns pointed across the DMZ are unloaded. Heck, would you want some malnourished corporal in Peoples Red Artillery Brigade 55 to fall asleep and lean on the button that ends it all?

Now, what we should do, and have done for years, is tell China to be quietly severe with their unwanted pauper sidekick.* Without Chinese support NK collapses. Slowly without war, rapidly with.

And China too faces apocalypse. Ya think Chinese troops crossing the Yalu would be tolerated today? It would be the entire collapse of their export based economy, with domestic unrest set to blow in a few months.

The key is to not have anybody telling NK that they are gonna profit by pushing things too far. IIRC the French were a little to reassuring to Sadam Hussein, and that ended very badly. And our President should either say nothing, or say something once. Short and and none too Sweet.

Tacitus2

*the notation once apocraphylly put on the chart of disruptive ER patients was AMFYOYO. The polite part is You're On Your Own.

Tim H. said...

An amusing movie trailer here-
http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/sony/insidejob/
Either there's still some independence in Hollywood, or the powers that be have found Wall $treet to be politically dispensable.

ell said...

General Dragon's most important point: "From these fortified positions, I would distribute food to the population. Lots of food, and other aid." From what I've heard about North Korea, the government is already using food as a weapon against its own people, starving civilians and feeding the military.

Rewinn: I've worked in publishing all my life and I well understand the need for editing, given the dreck manuscripts I've seen. However, I've also seen really bizarre censorship. I know what the item said before it was published.

T-shirt at a local bus stop: "When I want your opinion, I'll remove the duct tape from your mouth."

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Enough politics for now.


Well, in for a penny, in for a pound.

Y'know I've said before that the correct response to the current crop of Republicans' criticism of liberals is "I know you are, but what am I"? Nowhere is this more evident than in the contention by Republican Senate candidate Sharon Angle that the congress is rife with "domestic enemies".

It most certainly is, but not the ones she means.

Tacitus2 said...

Larry
I think we can do a bit better than that. I know honest, sincere people of both conservative and proressive inclinations, and we get along famously.
I've been musing on David's assertion that I am try to create parity between the behavior of the D and R parties.
I guess there is a little truth there, I see both as being made up of, and led by, not traitors or monsters, but by fallible humans trying to live up to worthy but difficult ideals. As I have mentioned before, one of my great fears is that the world has changed in ways that render neither party effective leaders.
But I am not going to say that they are the same, or that one is better or worse.
The Democrats have about them....a whiff of the corrupt ward heeler. Blago may well walk free, but he, and Rahm Immanual, and Charley Rangle all come from the tradition of political patronage and low level corruption. There is a transition point between looking after the underadvantaged and looking after your pals and pols. There is also another branch of the party, the Privileged. Not being a Kennedy or a Pelosi, I have a hard time relating, and some of their carbon burnin', tax dodgin', droit de seignior antics rub me the wrong way.

Of course the Republicans have some political b.o. also, a sniff of intolerance, an occasional lingering whiff of Country Club exclusiveness.

Our current system does not reward moderation, and the blame is sufficient for much sharing. Both parties contain careerists who would sell their mother to hang onto power. The press has abrogated their traditional duties almost completely. And, to some extent we the people share the blame. We too often put our own selfish interests first.

More on that another day.

Tacitus2

Ilithi Dragon said...

@ell: That is Fleet Admiral Dragon, thankyouverymuch. Starfleet does not have any generals.

} ; = 8 P

Ilithi Dragon said...

D'oh, went and hit send and I had more I wanted to add.

Yes, NK definitely uses food as a weapon. Their troops are the best-fed of the lot, and their diet is only around 900-some calories a day (I think that's the average soldier's diet, iirc, though that might be the officer/"special" soldier diet). Most of the civilians get less.

Give them three square meals a day and any needed medical care, for free, and the NK population is going to be very appreciative, I think (after they get over the diarrhea induced by actually getting a decent amount of food and nutrition after being malnourished for so long, anyway).

David Brin said...

While Firestrike sounds promising, I very much doubt it is ready for mass deployment sufficient to protect Seoul. In any event, let us not forget that N Korea has at least a couple of nukes, as well. I'll never understand why the S Koreans hadn't diversified to other cities by now.

Tacitus, old pal, you do keep trying for equivalence. But please note, statements like "The Democrats have about them....a whiff of the corrupt ward heeler." are general, arm-waved assertions.

THAT is the currency on Fox. Statistics are anathema! And as a doctor, you know that frenetic avoidance of statistics is a sure sign of outright liars.

Here's a statistic. After 8 years of being told that old ward heeler Bill Clinton ran the "most corrupt, crony-filled, back-room dealin gang-administration in US history..." the statistical FACT was that not a single Clintonite was ever convicted or even indicted for malfeasance of office. The ONLY administration for which that was true, ever. (And despite strenuous efforts by the Bushites to misuse the FBI to find that "smoking gun.")

That is the kind of statistic that should set off alarm bells. "My gut impressions were clearly biased and wrong. I need to adjust them."

You and millions of other decent conservatives are thinking with your guts. And dig it -- anecdotal anomalies like Blagoyovich aside - your gut is wrong! Hey it happens. People are people and we do this.

Fact: every statistical measure of national health plummeted under GOP rule, while the middle class suffered and the conspiratorial crony-oligarchy thrived, destroying genuine capitalist competition in america. Small business ALWAYS does better under democrats. So exactly where is this equivalence between them?

(Oh, BTW... well over 60% of the congressional sex scandals -- and ALL of the kinky homosexual ones -- are GOPpers. ANd that's leaving out S. Carolina. Yeesh.)

"ur current system does not reward moderation, and the blame is sufficient for much sharing."

Tacitus, this is an assertion. Assering it does NOT make it so.

In fact, the Democratic party is UTTERLY ruled by its moderates, to a degree that has the left fuming. Obamacare enraged the lefties so much there was talk of bolting. In fact, even though I despise the left, I find Obama WAY too tepid and eager to please. After his hand was bitten nearly clear off, every time he reached out, I think it's time to use it to grab a stick!

Look I appreciate the position you are in. But I lived through it before. All my GOP friends writhed and twisted during Watergate, before FINALLY admitting Nixon was a horrific crook. It is ten times harder now, since admitting it this time would mean there is a PATTERN.

Hey, I hated the USSR and called it an evil empire and you know how pro-(real) capitalism I am. I am an utter American future-oriented problem solving, mixed economy Pax Americana (in the Marshallian mode) patriot. My natural instinct is to fret over undue accumulations of power in ALL directions.

My rant at the libertarians was in hope of persuading them to go-sane and become a useful force in American political life, a government-skeptical party to replace the whore-GOP.

I hate having only one genuine political party! But that is the situation. One political party and one nest of vipers. The solution is to punish the vipers, NOT to try to feel better by dismissing them all as snakes.

Tacitus2 said...

David, David, thou art inimitable!

I offer you insights into how an allegedly sane conservative thinks and you want statistics.

I offer you statistics (see above on campaign finance and my previous take on the whole Metrics of National Well Being) and you dismiss them as irrelevent!

btw, as a physician you need to know the numbers, which can be taught, and also understand people, which is so much harder!

If there is any writhing going on these days it would appear to be on the part of Progressives---control of both sides of Congress, the WH, approval ratings of 70%, and we get.....this?

The nation is simply more conservative than you imagine it to be. Or by your lights, dumber and more prone to Rovian mind control tricks.

Whatever. While I enjoy your pangyrics I worry a bit about how your psyche will handle a possible rightward shift in the national mood.

In the end, we each get one vote.

Of course, living in a swing state mine is probably worth a bit more!

Tacitus2

Tim H. said...

From here, it seems the GOP assimilated unwholesome things in pursuit of electoral advantage, with little thought of the nature of what they were taking in, after all, wasn't victory the only consideration? The conservative coalition is beginning to resemble the gang called together for the destruction of Rock Ridge in Blazing Saddles. For now, the Democrats are the closest thing we have to a conservative party.

Robert said...

The one thing to remember about North Korea is that it is a nuclear power. If war is imminent, then we will see two things happen.

First, we will see a nuclear device detonated in or over a North Korean city. My bet would be on the capital. Any and every member of the government of importance would naturally be out of the city when it was detonated, by "luck." And then, claiming that the U.S. nuked them, North Korea would try to send its nukes into South Korea, targeting the Demilitarized Zone and also with a couple attempts on Seoul itself. After all, the vile Americans started a nuclear war, and North Korea would be determined to punish the U.S. for its audacity.

Several South American nations would immediately denounce the United States, as would Iran. There would be an outcry from these smaller nations to punish the demonic Americans for using nuclear weapons on a defenseless nation like North Korea. And when reports came back showing that the weapon was in fact of North Korean origin and that they nuked themselves to try and frame the U.S.? Well, it's obviously an American Conspiracy.

There would probably even be some Americans stupid enough to believe it. After all, there are some individuals who still believe the U.S. government used thermite on the World Trade Center, and that airplane fuel does not burn hot enough to melt the steel that was reported "pouring off of the World Trade Center" according to the conspiracy advocates.

If North Korea managed to use its nukes effectively against the Demilitarized zone, they probably would catch a number of American and South Korean troops in the blast; it would likely be a ground blast, which would lessen the total damage the nukes would cause, but it would still cause burns, radiation poisoning, and massive destruction. If there are any EMP effects from ground-effect nuclear explosions (I'm fuzzy on this bit here as I believe EMP was caused by upper-atmosphere nuclear detonations, not ground-level bursts) then U.S. military hardware might be knocked out as well, giving North Korea a temporary advantage. At least, until our air force arrived to start bombing the North into the stone age.

Rob H., who looked at the 9/11 assaults and saw it could have been far worse if they had just withheld twelve men, armed them with semi-automatic guns, and attacked NYC's public school system while the police and emergency personnel were busy with the planes smashing into the WTC... so yeah, I tend to look at worse-case scenarios

BCRion said...

Rob,

EMP effects from nuclear weapons are caused when photons, usually in the form of x-rays, from the blast strike atoms and kick off electrons inducing electric currents. Because a nuclear explosion emits a large fraction of its energy in the form of photons, these currents are significant enough to damage electronics. This is independent of whether they are ground or air blasts.

Air blasts are more damaging because the shockwaves propagate over a wider range. Ground blasts produce more radioactivity from neutron activation of ground material stirred up during the explosion.

David Brin said...

Tacitus please. I missed your statistics. So how could I dismiss them? I don't recall any. What were they?

rewinn said...

@tacitus
Progressives do not "control both houses of Congress".

You don't control the Senate without 60 votes, and that requires Joe Liebermann and Ben Nelson who are both much less "progressive" than Nixon; on health care, the GOP was more progressive than they in 1994.

I don't mind political rhetoric so long as I get to point out that that's all it is.

David Brin said...

Geez... ONE day after I wrote: "BTW... well over 60% of the congressional sex scandals -- and ALL of the kinky homosexual ones -- are GOPpers."

...just look at today's news.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Awesome science news:

NASA and European Stargazers are both claiming to have discovered the first star system with multiple planets. NASA's discovery comes from the Kepler satellite, and they have spotted two planets in the same system, both gas giants a bit smaller than Saturn. The Geneva University team claims to have discovered a system that has at least five, and possibly seven planets (including what may be the smallest exoplanet discovered, at ~1.4 Earths), using a "High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) spectrograph attached to a 3.6-metre telescope at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in La Silla, Chile." Both of these discoveries, plus the string of planetary discoveries the Kepler sat has been spitting out since it's launch, suggest that planets are very, very common in our galaxy.

Also, stand by for the controversy of who made the discovery of the first multi-planet star system first.

Ian said...

A while ago, I asked here how small you could make a vehicle capable of putting a human into orbit.

A Danish group hopes to find out.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19370-human-cannonball-astronaut-my-rocket-is-my-clothes.html

Ian said...

A while ago, I asked here how small you could make a vehicle capable of putting a human into orbit.

A Danish group hopes to find out.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19370-human-cannonball-astronaut-my-rocket-is-my-clothes.html

Ian said...

Button wrote:"Ilithi: with South Korean, American and Japanese troops steamrolling the N.Korean troops

Japanese troops? Do they actually have any deployed there or plans for doing so?

Sounds implausible, given history."

Nevertheless, current plans call for exactly that although Japanese support would probably initially be limited to aerial and naval units.

Ian said...

On the extremely hypothetical question of the aftermath of a US-backed invasion of North Korea, I tend to suspect that the best guide is the post-WWII occupation of Japan.

Korea, like Japan, is what anthropologists refer to as a consensus society, meaning people place an extremely high value on social cohesion and harmony.

Like the Japanese nationalists, I suspect most North Koreans would adjust to the new reality with an alacrity that would surprise most westerners.

Ian said...

"And China too faces apocalypse. Ya think Chinese troops crossing the Yalu would be tolerated today? It would be the entire collapse of their export based economy, with domestic unrest set to blow in a few months."
China's economy is not based on ex[ports.

the belief that it is, is a sadly persistent delusion.

Ian said...

"Rob H., who looked at the 9/11 assaults and saw it could have been far worse if they had just withheld twelve men, armed them with semi-automatic guns, and attacked NYC's public school system while the police and emergency personnel were busy with the planes smashing into the WTC... so yeah, I tend to look at worse-case scenarios"

Or set off a couple of truck bombs on the Brooklyn and George Washington Bridges.

Or stationed a couple of snipers in buildings near the WTC to attack the first responders.

Or used the other two aircraft to attack targets in New York.

Tim H. said...

Ian said "China's economy is not export based"
And that's probably true, in a sense, but it misses the question, which is will China tolerate that big a dent in their rice bowl. Maybe to reacquire Taiwan, probably not for their problem child, North Korea.

Ian said...

"Ian said "China's economy is not export based"
And that's probably true, in a sense, but it misses the question, which is will China tolerate that big a dent in their rice bowl. Maybe to reacquire Taiwan, probably not for their problem child, North Korea."

There's a couple of factors you need to understand here.

The first is the blow to China's prestige from the collapse of one of its few remaining Communist allies.

The second is the likely exodus of several million refugees from North Korea into china.

The third, closely related to that is that there's a significant Korean minority in north East china in areas which have historically been Korean territory, raising the prospect of irredentism by any future united Korean state.

Fourth, you have the prospect of American forces parked on the Yalu river.

Fifth and related to the fourth, you have the Chinese folk memory of successive invasions from the north.

The Chinese have continued to support the North Koreans despite the horrendous shit they pull and at enormous political and political cost.

I wouldn't assume they'd be willing to stop doing so by the nebulous (and quite possibly illegal under WTO rules) threats of economic sanctions.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Larry
I think we can do a bit better than that. I know honest, sincere people of both conservative and proressive inclinations, and we get along famously.


I do too. My daughter's best friend has firmly-Republican parents (with a "Defeat ObamaCare!" sticker in their window), which reminds me on a daily basis that the sincere individual voter is not the problem.

What I was getting at with the "domestic enemies" thing, though was that it seems to me that congressmen who refer to their opposition-party colleagues AS "domestic enemies" are the ones who (in my opinion) should tend to the beam in their own eye. I think it's obvious that one party engages in that sort of talk more than the other does. Perhaps you can cite examples that prove me wrong on that. My point is that whichever party we're talking about, the equating of political opposition with treason IS in itself an anti-American ideal.

To go off on another tangent here, I once read a fanfic short story about sexual politics, wherein an elderly gentleman with a beautiful young wife realizes that the wife is in fact a vampire, literally living off of him. There's a very ironic scene where she professes quite honestly that she "loves" him, and in horror, he replies that she loves him the way he loves a steak dinner!

I think that certain corporatist politicians who profess love for America in fact only "love" America the way a man loves a steak dinner, or a vampire loves her host. And we voters allow this sort of "love" for the country to be equated with patriotism at our peril.

rewinn said...

@Larryhart

We can make a principled distinction between vampires and corporations:

Vampires are:

* Fictional
* Amoral
* Immortal
* Stronger than any single human
* Smarter (perhaps due to long experience) than any single human
* Fed by consuming the life energy of humans
* Good servants, terrifying masters.

Corporations are:

* Not Fictional.

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