Thursday, September 09, 2010

Events, brinterviews, progress... and more science...


Folks near San Diego can come see me introduce a screening of DISTRICT 9 on September 22... with vignettes from ALIEN NATION and E.T. for comparison.

In one of my better television interviews - on France24's international English language service - "Eve Jackson speaks to the sci- fi author David Brin about the future, privacy, freedom, technology... and science fiction."

That wildly popular “GeeksOn interview of David Brin” had a bad link, last time. It’s corrected this time.  If you care to risk “Brin overdose!”

Or listen as Mari Frank interviews me on  KUCI about transparency and privacy.  Not a great phone link, I’m afraid but a survey of strong/unusual views about how openness can help us preserve both freedom and privacy.

And here’s an article about my talented young cousin, a speechwriter for President Obama.

I came across a story on wired.com about an opera performed in Klingonese, they sent an invitation via radio telescope to where they guess Klingons live.  Ah, romantics! No attention paid to the hundreds of races inside the Klingon empire that were effectively slaves. So, this is like shouting “Yoohoo, beasties!  Come and eat us!” Sigh. ;-)

=== For the Predictions Registry! ===

Both of these are from SUNDIVER. (Someone log them in the registry!)

NASA is sending a probe to dive into the sun.  Several of the investigators consulter (mildly) with me.

And “tracking technology will enable us to empty over-crowded prisons of the least dangerous criminals – allowing them to live productive lives, while being monitored for drugs and alcohol, their location checked to ensure they stay away from schools or playgrounds. Our current prison system is an overwhelming failure: expensive, disgraceful and ineffective.’

A perfect Mocumentary.

=== The Special Muse Corner ===

1. The Hugos were announced. There was a tie for Best Novel between China Mieville (The City and the City) and Paolo Bacigalupi (The Windup Girl). Charles Stross won for Best Novella.

2. ChronoZoom, a visual history of life, the universe & everything. Developed by Walter Alvarez at UC Berkeley -- an attempt to portray a timescale of the cosmos, earth and human history, encompassing data from space science, geology, biology, anthropology and human history. Note: this is a first generation design; you need to download a Microsoft application to allow it to function effectively.   

3. News from the Helvetian front? International pressure on the Swiss to change their banking practices.

4. Gray instead of black and white: A computer chip based on probability not binary. (Trinary?)

5. Thirty statistics that prove the elite are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and the middle class is being destroyed.

6. Micro-altruism? It appears that a few mutant, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are sufficient to allow a whole colony of bacteria to survive a dose of antiobiotics. The drug-resistant bacteria produce compounds, indoles, which strengthen the rest of the colony, even though this production takes a toll on the individuals who produce it. Such antibiotic resistant bacteria are a major health concern.

7. A new trend in Science Fiction? Writer Jason Sandford cites hard SF authors breaking the rules, and gives it a name: "SciFi Strange also flirts with the boundaries of what is scientifically - and therefore realistically--possible, without being bounded by the rigid frames of the world as we know it today. but don't call SciFi Strange fantasy. This is pure science fiction. It's merely an updated version of the literature of ideas. A science fiction for a world where the frontiers of scientific possibility are almost philosophical in nature."

8. In his new book, The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking says there no theory of everything ....
Stephen Hawking: Why God did not create the universe.

9. We are seeing the return of the Commons, as we share ever more information: files, thoughts, photos, videos... Car, bike and book sharing, as well as peer-to-peer lending sites are booming. Termed Collaborative Consumption, it’s about access instead of ownership.

11. Nanotechnology news: Tiny solar cells fix themselves -- using plant proteins, carbon nanotubes and lipids.

12. Octopuses carry coconut shells across the sea floor, then hide underneath. Are they anticipating the need for a hiding place? They have also been observed building rock walls, unscrewing jar lids...

13. Dolphins have been observed carrying heavy conch shells above the water surface -- using the shells to trap fish, then tipping them into their mouths, shaking out a meal

===  ALSO.... ===

A fun map... based on the classic map of the London Underground... showing highlights in the development of science.

Check out SideWiseThinker, blog of Michael Dobson.
He has a wonderful list on how to know if you're being reasonable: Here are a few:
-- You're not being reasonable if you don't acknowledge your own biases and blind spots.
-- You're not being reasonable if you don't take the time to find out what the other person really means.
-- You're not being reasonable if you don't separate emotional outbursts from logical reasoning.
-- You're not being reasonable if you only expose yourself to one type of information.

Yipe!  If he continues in that vein, Rupert Murdoch may have to order a hit on the fellow!

He also has a series of blogs on cognitive biases.

More soon....

142 comments:

Kathy Amen said...

"Octopuses carry coconut shells across the sea floor, then hide underneath. Are they anticipating the need for a hiding place? They have also been observed building rock walls, unscrewing jar lids..."

Not to mention predicting the outcome of World Cup soccer games 8-)

Robert said...

I've been saving these up, and it seems like now's a good time to share them.

First, we have a new series of Crop Markings... but these markings are not the product of aliens or practical jokers using boards and mathematics (and string), but rather the ancients themselves revealing their old homes through a combination of dry weather and Icelandic ash.

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

Next, the Frozen Zoo is planning on using skin cells and the like to help restore significantly-endangered animals using techniques recently mastered that allow us to create eggs and sperm out of cell nuclei. While it is possible to use this to restore extinct animals as well, the scientists are against this as they feel the animals should be restored to existing herds and packs so they have an opportunity to learn from their own kind, rather than muddle their way and borrowing from foster animals.

Personally, I think that restoring some extinct animals might not be a bad idea. A lot of animal interaction is instinctual in nature. While the extinct animals might not behave quite like their dead brethren did... it would be an interesting experiment to see just how much of their actions are instinctual... and how much are learned. But no doubt these scientists are also afraid of playing God, so....

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

An oddly-shaped fish that seems to resemble a certain Pixar star has been discovered. This "Shrek fish" apparently helped spice up some slow news days. And hey, at least it wasn't mermaids. ;)

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

Finally, a pair of asteroids buzzed the Earth on the same day; this is the first time that astronomers have been aware of two asteroids passing within the Earth/Moon orbit in the same day, though undoubtedly it's happened before.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Robert said...

Oh, and I forgot this gem of good news: it appears that the oil-eating microbes in the Gulf Coast have been munching away at the oil without causing any oxygen-dead zones. Oxygen depletion has been at 20%, which is a bit above the level where concerns of oxygen deprivation for sea critters starts to happen. Sadly, much as happened with Bush with Katrina, good news is ignored for Presidential Administrations, and only the bad is emphasized. You have to feel bad for Obama.

And, for that matter... I think Obama might be feeling a tiny bit of sympathy toward Bush over the whole Katrina situation, as there was a lot that happened that Bush wasn't able to fix even though he wanted to. Hey, Bush might have been a crook and an idiot... but I suspect he truly believed he was doing the right thing for America. That is why he was able to cause so much harm. The road to hell has always been paved with good intentions.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

you need to download a Microsoft application [Silverlight] to allow it to function effectively.
Ah, Silverlight.... another way in which Microsoft puts the pale blue dot into .Net (Grrr!)

On a related topic (all your beans are belong to us), Google is being sued by Oracle for patent infringement (aka 'java')

And to change the mood a little...
those not 'gamefully' employed (;-) may want to check out Jane McGonigal's new venture. Worthwhile seeing what comes of it.

David Brin said...

http://www.latimes.com/health/la-na-speechwriter-20100903,0,6521311.story

Patricia mathews said...

"12. Octopuses carry coconut shells across the sea floor, then hide underneath. Are they anticipating the need for a hiding place? They have also been observed building rock walls, unscrewing jar lids..."

Aha! They know something is coming down and have Preparing for it! (Cue Twilight Zone music.) Seamageddon?

Rob Perkins said...

Silverlight is fine... I guess... except for the fact that it's another plug-in and Microsoft is pushing it on everyone as though it were the One True Religion, and behaving as though they're afraid it really isn't.

Oh, and speaking as one who has spent the last 20 years programming computers in about half of everything imaginable from DOS assembly all the way to iPhone apps, it comes across as a product that a bunch of 20-something kids wrote, that they don't really want to document, but they're desperate to make sure you know You Must Use. Microsoft's days of "developers! developers! developers!" are well and truly over.

Tony Fisk said...

Sundiver link is broken. Try here.

I don't have technical problems with Silverlight or C# (I've used the latter but not the former). I do have problems with the fact that neither are available in anything but a Microsoft product or plugin. This isn't how the internet operates (or *will* operate!).

Ironically, an open alternative to silverlight (SVG) is supported by just about every modern browser ... *except* Internet Explorer. I believe this is being sorted in IE 9 (just as CSS compliance finally appeared in IE 8) It also suggests the Explorer crew, at least, can sense which way the wind is blowing.

I think this has to go into the 'lost in translation' department: following an election victory which surely sets a new standard for the term 'pyrrhic', ALP communication minister Stephen Conroy is still insisting on pushing ahead with an internet filter.

Robert said...

I'm not sure if this one was mentioned before, but some scientists believe that Titan's hydrogen cycle is suggestive there is life on Titan. It wouldn't be life as we know it... but it's still an interesting concept.

I have to wonder though how it would evolve in a billion years or so when the Sun starts heating up a bit more... and in turn starts increasing Titan's temperature beyond its current frigid state. Can a methane-based biology adapt over to oxygen? Did ours?

Rob H.

Rob Perkins said...

Tony, SVG isn't equivalent to Silverlight, which is not to say that Silverlight is a better approach. But it does leverage skills a C# developer might have. Sort of. Kind of. If you're willing to learn an entirely unique declarative language. Which is not close to being adequately documented.

(C# itself is the product of a pissing match between Sun and Microsoft, you remember the one, I'm sure.)

Tony Fisk said...

You mean J++ and Sun declining to play the old 'embrace, expand, extinguish' game? It was my first whack from the cluebat when Microsoft dropped J++ rather than stick with the java standard.

Ironic, considering who 'owns' java now, and what they're trying to do.

Robert said...

Don't Ask, Don't Tell was found to be unconstitutional. The Justice Department might appeal it, which would allow them to postpone instituting a gay-neutral policy right off... but considering that we've already seen several salvos fired past this policy, I have to wonder if the U.S. Military might end up implementing their new plans early.

It'll be interesting to watch Conservatives scream that this is judicial activism at work. If they do, they risk sounding like anti-Constitutional bigots. After all... the Constitution is meant to protect our freedoms, and one thing Republicans have constantly claimed is they believe in following the Constitution. So then, if a federal policy is found to be discriminatory and unconstitutional... shouldn't Republicans support the court's actions?

Rhetorical question, that. ;)

Rob H.

Stuart said...

I must admit, I'm a big fan of the .NET framework. Visual Studio is practically artificially intelligent. But creating apps in SharePoint showed me that even their development people occasionally have a really bad idea.

Tony Fisk said...

I'm not being critical of the technical merits of .Net (C# is actually quite nice to use) It's the terms of use I don't like.

mineddl: er, I think that says it all!

Tim H. said...

An interesting essay on EMP,
http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100908_gauging_threat_electromagnetic_pulse_emp_attack
An angle they didn't mention, hardening infrastructure against an unlikely EMP attack would also be helpful in the likelier case of an energetic solar event.

Rob Perkins said...

Tony, that's the one. But let's be fair. MS gives away C# (which is not .NET; not by a long shot, not with VB and variants of Ruby and Fortran and that abomination, XAML, targeting .NET as well) and even supplies a free-download copy of its tools. And Sun was no better a player in that time.

Kind of like the patent lawsuit whizzing Apple and Nokia; and Apple and Adobe are doing these days, come to think of it. Players change, game is the same.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Dr. Robert Altemeyer, author of The Authoritarians and prominent psychologist and sociological expert on authoritarianism, has added a commment on the Tea Party addendum to the site hosting The Authoritarians PDF file, noting how they fit so disturbingly well into the Authoritarian archetype. In this particular field, I think the man deserves his own predictions registry.

ell said...

RE: Sharing

This year I've seen new examples of book sharing: The boating community, sometimes finding idle time at sea, passes books around. Also, a restaurant catering to the retired has a basket of books for trading at the front table.

Rob Perkins said...

Of course, Rob, it is judicial activism at work, otherwise the Log Cabin Goppers wouldn't have filed suit.

They have no risk of sounding like anti-Constitutional bigots. They've been cloaking themselves in constructionism for three years now.

rewinn said...

“The four corners of deceit: government, academia, science and media. Those institutions are now corrupt and exist by virtue of deceit. That's how they promulgate themselves; it is how they prosper.”
---Rush Limbaugh

There is a growing anti-science streak on the American right that could have tangible societal and political impacts on many fronts..."

"Science Scorned" Nature 467 , 133 (09 September 2010)

Ian said...

More food for thought for your favorite ostrich:

"In this paper, we use the Moody’s Analytics model of the U.S. economy—adjusted to accommodate some recent financial-market policies—to simulate the macroeconomic effects of the government’s total policy response. We find that its effects on real GDP, jobs, and inflation are huge, and probably averted what could have been called Great Depression 2.0. For example, we estimate that, without the government’s response, GDP in 2010 would be about 11.5% lower, payroll employment would be less by some 8½ million jobs, and the nation would now be experiencing deflation."

http://www.economy.com/mark-zandi/documents/End-of-Great-Recession.pdf

Anonymous said...

That probability chip could probably find a nice home in Eliezer Yudkowsky's Friendly AI.

Are you sure the link for "Sci-Fi Strange" is correct? The article seems to be about something somewhat different.

David Brin said...

Re: that Limbaugh quotation above...

Good lord, it is now totally explicit.

Anyone who thinks we are in anything less than phase three of the American Civil War is a complete ostrich.

I will never again let myself be lectured to, about patriotism, by men who fantasize about riding with Nathan Bedford Forest. When the McVeighs start rampaging, I hope we'll recognize Fort Sumter and remember Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

A noble man who served his country in all four corners of truth: government, academia, science and media, and who wore a color we are all going have to choose, if we want to save our country, again.

ell said...

Rush would know how corrupt and manipulative "media" are. Rush is on the radio, and radio is one of the media.

Tony Fisk said...

'How low can you go' Limbaugh is basically 'strawmanning' the four corners.

Thing about strawmanning though: it involves projecting your own perceptions onto someone else. ie in setting up your target you run the risk of setting *yourself* up because it's what you think you might do in those circumstances.

At least the Rev. Jones has backed down on his book-burning crusade (I'd thought a good, if perhaps bold, come-back would have been for a muslim leader to express sadness at Jones' proposal, but then offer him some copies as a gesture of good will: what to do then?)

David Brin said...

It's not "four corners"

F I have it named far better.

Notice that he has encompassed all "smartypants."

Except for the military and MBAs, he has eliminated nearly everybody with advanced degrees.

He must do this. If the populist ire is not directed at one realm of "authority"... those who know a lot... it will veer toward those who have a different kind of power.

Those who steered us into a ditch and aim for us to be serfs.

Stefan Jones said...

I believe Limbaugh knows for a fact what Stephen Colbert jokes about:

Reality has a strong liberal bias.

Rush's audience are people who are both afraid (of losing what they have, and of change) and deeply, deeply aggrieved. He plays on natural human tendencies: Fear of others, resentment of "freeloaders" (which has probably coexisted with altrusim since the neolithic), and perhaps most of all a deep resistance to changing one's beliefs.

We live in a complex, interconnected, interrelated world with problems that are more than differences in theology. Climate change, ocean acidification, depletion of petroleum reserves . . . these problems will effect everybody. But movement conservatives persist in treating them like something that can be ignored, or solved with a chant. You call this the narrative view of reality. It's a perverse, right-wing version of postmodern theory, which suggests that reality is socially constructed.

All the the institutions that Rush attacks are threats to the maintenance of the narrative. Movement conservatives want a world where no one will dare criticize the Emperor's new clothes.

I'd say: Fuck them. Let them burn. Except their stupidity will take everyone with with them.

Tacitus2 said...

It would be, I suppose, churlish of me to mention that Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was in fact a Republican*...and one might even imagine him as having a conservative streak, as he had a certain segment of the populace unhappy with his support of capital punishment.

Seriously guys, why do you waste any time heeding Rush? He is an entertainer, for those who finds such things stimulating.

Of course he has to have some minimal connection with the real world, just as one assumes Jerry Seinfeld sometimes has experiences with lost airline luggage and surly cabbies upon which to base HIS material.

As to whether the media, goverment, academia and science are corrupt....nah, well, maybe in Illinois but not globally.

All four have some credibility issues but that's not the same thing.

I am counting on adults here to rise above the narrative of the day (I figure we are due for our quarterly dose of Scary Christian Militia pretty soon).

It might be interesting to hear people handicap their local races...how's things looking on your patches of ground?

Tacitus2

*At risk of repeating a point I have made before, we had better Republicans in days of yore. Better Democrats too.

Anonymous said...

Despite all the pessimism about culture war and intolerance, take note of Nicholas Kristof's New York Times column today. He writes:

"This is one of those times that test our values, a bit like the shameful interning of Japanese-Americans during World War II, or the disgraceful refusal to accept Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/12/opinion/12kristof.html?_r=1

This should actually encourage us. Because, come to think of it, no, the current anti-Muslim brouhaha really isn't anything like the internment of Japanese-Americans 67 years ago. We haven't herded together all American Muslims and marched them off to concentration camps in the desert. We haven't confiscated all their property and allowed their homes and businesses to get bought up for a dime on the dollar by unscrupulous caucasian neighbors.

That's a real improvement.

The evidence seems to show that we're doing better as a society. 2386 Americans were killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, compared to 2988 Americans killed in the Twin Towers and all three jets, so the absolute numbers of deaths from the two attacks were definitely comparable. The per capita numbers (scaling for population) were about half as large in the 9/11 attacks, however.

The important point is that America's response this time is much less xenophobic. No one in the U.S. government is seriously contemplating rounding up all American Muslims and putting them in interment camps. This should give us cause for optimism. We're learning!

Jacob said...

Hi Tacitus2,

I think your point only applies selectively. It is true that the pseudo-straw-man is inappropriate to throw into the faces of some Republicans/Conservatives. So we can accept your point relative to them. But ->many<- Republicans/Conservatives view Rush as a leader and a news source. The Conservatives in my own family suggest I listen and learn from him.

I completely understand where you are coming from, but your position just doesn't apply to my experiences in Georgia.

Tacitus2 said...

Jacob
Yes, Georgia and Wisconsin are very different places.
Tacitus2

Robert said...

I used to watch Rush on TV, and listen to him on the radio. Unfortunately (for him), I was too intelligent to just blindly buy the bull he was selling. I kept seeing the flaws in his arguments. And I have a friend I think of as intelligent who just buys this BS... and I have to wonder if maybe I'm overestimating the intelligence of some of my friends. -_-

Rob H.

Jacob said...

Accepted. Its important not to judged everyone of an organization before meeting them personally (even in Georgia). Although, accepting association will inevitably strain my relationship with them to lesser or greater extent.

Would you please help Wisconsin form a new political movement that shuns Republicans for what they have become? Or maybe just cast out those states that have lost their grip on reality.

I am eagerly awaiting the day of the revolution within the Republican party that splits them into reasonable and unreasonable camps. I will join and do everything I can to support the reasonables. Until then, I will vote straight D excluding those people that impress me despite their association.

Rob Perkins said...

I *did* listen to Rush. For years. Then a Republican was elected with a Republican Congress that chose deficit spending, and I heard him use the same reasoning to justify them that he'd spent the previous eight years decrying in the Democrats... even though for four of those years, the Dems weren't running deficits.

My heart sighed, I realized he was a quisling and a demagogue, and I haven't been able to stand more than ten minutes of his show since. That was ten years ago, and it's part of the reason I think David Brin is right about "the Right."

rewinn said...

We're long past the time where we can entertain any hope that ignoring the Know-Nothings will make them go away. History teaches us quite the opposite.

If you think modern conservativism has been taken over by classic authoritarians, characterised by submission to leaders, fear, and so forth, you might enjoy Dr. Bob Altemeyer's "The Authoritarians"

Stefan Jones said...

Who needs Rush?

Newt Gingrich: Despite being born in Hawaii and having spent his formative years in the midwest, Obama's governance is based on the worldview of a Kenyan anti-colonialist.

Because his father was a Kenyan anti-colonialist. And like muslimism that kind of thing is in the blood, I guess.

I'd say "you can't make this shit up," but conservative pundits do make this shit up, all the time, and we're not talking about fringe media figures here.

Watch for a distorted, illiterate slogan based on the "Kenyan anti-socialist" meme to appear on tea bagger posters.

Rob Perkins said...

Handicap local races?

Locally, Republicans have the advantage. State-wide, it's a 50-50 split.

Anonymous said...

Whoops!

The star which the Klingon home world circles is NOT Arcturus, so somebody there is going to be awfully confused in 37 years. Plus, that publicity stunt with the radio telescope was completely wasted. I imagine radio astronomers have good uses for radio telescope time.

http://www.jeffjobb.com/pictures/Star_trek_map2.jpg

Anonymous said...

"...I am struck by the joylessness of our current futurism. I mean, does anyone actually think things are going to get better? Who looks forward to 2050 (or even 2030) as a time of technological wonders improving humanity's lot? We don't seem to think we have much to look forward to anymore – environmental catastrophes, mass extinctions, vanishing resources, political instability, economic collapse, critical overpopulation, and a soulless existence as cogs in a society that is little more than an enormous, filthy, and cold machine.

"What optimism we have anymore is short-term; such-and-such will make things better now or in the next few years. No one even pretends anymore that things are looking up in the long term. We know that the melting icecaps, rising oceans, food shortages, wars over oil or fresh water, Great Depression III, and Grey Goo are right around the corner. It's optimistic just to think that the U.S. will still be a functioning society in 30 years let alone one kissed by the wonders of science or experiencing any kind of prosperity."

Gin & Tacos blog, "We were promised flying cars,"
http://www.ginandtacos.com/2010/07/02/npf-we-were-promised-flying-cars/#comments

Tony Fisk said...

Optimism derives from, not just the power to imagine, but the possible range of imagination.

Cynicism has been described as the result of idealism tempered by experience. In other words, all that blue-sky brainstorming occasionally needs to be exposed to an element of criticism to allow us to focus on the pragmatic solutions.

A few reports over the last 4-5 years have served as a reality check. In particular, global warming has ceased to be a problem for our children and has become increasingly a problem we will have to start dealing with. Pragmatically.

Unfortunately, this also tends to crimp the imaginative style. So, a fig for your flying cars, where's my solar-powered bicycle?

Cynicism has also been defined as obedience which, I think, is quite true when applied excessively.

A recent example of this is an Australian study outlining the feasibility of meeting a 100% renewable energy target in ten years. It has been met with a resounding scoff from a bunch of pro-nuclear folk. I'm not going to get into the pros and cons of the argument, other than to point out that the criticism, while well structured, was:
- swift in its condemnation,
- adamant that nuclear power was the only answer
- of a depressingly familiar sneering tone.

All seemingly designed to say stop dreaming and leave it to us (who may or may not do something)

There is also the notion that sf films make for more dramatic story-telling if the future has massive problems as a backdrop rather than some utopia (David has commented on this before. I see it as a by-product of film's emphasis on the immediate: novels can be more introspective. A possible solution may be to emphasise look-ahead vigilance in the story-telling)

Still, constraints can be viewed as creative challenges (as any film noir director trying to circumvent censorship laws will tell you)

So, think of the gloomy future as a lot of creative challenges lining up.

(And keep your eye on Gapminder)

Tim H. said...

100% renewable in 10 years? Just because it's unlikely to meet such an ambitious goal is no reason not to take steps in that direction, a bit of progress beats none. But if you really hate burning coal, barring a revolution in energy storage, you need to learn to tolerate nuclear power. And solar-powered bike? You are joking, aren't you?

Anonymous said...

First we have Republican presidential candidates lining up 2008 to deny evolution:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJ88l5ql_FQ

Then that Limbaugh quote -- and now this:

GALILEO WAS WRONG, THE CHURCH WAS RIGHT
First Annual Catholic Conference on Geocentrism
http://www.galileowaswrong.com/galileowaswrong/

Looks like the trifecta.

Tony Fisk said...

@TimH

1. I consider the BZE report as an exercise in what is possible if we desire it, not what is likely.

2. I can live with nuclear. What annoys me is that the BNC guys seem to insist on nothing but nuclear. Behold, the new oil.

3. Ummm... yes (although I rather like the notion of personalised vubble transport such as Francesco Di Lana envisaged nearly 400 years ago. Crazy as... a flying car! ;-)

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Seriously guys, why do you waste any time heeding Rush? He is an entertainer, for those who finds such things stimulating.


I doubt most of Dr Brin's followers "heed" Rush, but it's a mistake to try to pretend what he says doesn't influence the way many Americans will vote. At a minimum, it's a worthwhile exercise to get counterarguments out there, because his arguments ARE out there whether we like it or not.


Of course he has to have some minimal connection with the real world, just as one assumes Jerry Seinfeld sometimes has experiences with lost airline luggage and surly cabbies upon which to base HIS material.


Not nearly the same thing in terms of influence. I'll agree that, in a rational world, Rush WOULD be equated with Seinfeld rather than being the de-facto spokesperson for a major political party.


As to whether the media, goverment, academia and science are corrupt....nah, well, maybe in Illinois but not globally.


Ouch! As a Chicagoan-born and a lifetime sururban resident, that one hurts, but I can't exactly deny it. Shortly after the 2008 election, when it looked as if Rahm Emmanuel might be the next president from 2016-2024, I liked to assert that "Illinois is the new Virginia" (in the sense of producing Presidents). A few months later, after the Blagojevitch thing really took off, I had to acknowledge that maybe we're the "new Louisiana" instead.


I am counting on adults here to rise above the narrative of the day (I figure we are due for our quarterly dose of Scary Christian Militia pretty soon).


Isn't a near-miss terrorist bombing due for October?


It might be interesting to hear people handicap their local races...how's things looking on your patches of ground?


In my district, Mark Kirk (R) blew an almost-sure thing at winning Obama's former Senate seat, and it appears to be safely blue for now.

BTW, Tacitus, I'm glad to see when you end your periods of self-exile from posting here. I know you often feel your point of view to be a besieged one, but you're one of the few vocal conservatives I know (make that "know") who actually argues rationally, and I'm always glad to hear your thoughts. I recently lost contact with my old honest-conservative buddy who now seems firmly convinced that I'm on the side of America's enemies, while I'm firmly convinced that he's gone insane. But I miss the conversations we used to have.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Seriously guys, why do you waste any time heeding Rush? He is an entertainer, for those who finds such things stimulating.


I doubt most of Dr Brin's followers "heed" Rush, but it's a mistake to try to pretend what he says doesn't influence the way many Americans will vote. At a minimum, it's a worthwhile exercise to get counterarguments out there, because his arguments ARE out there whether we like it or not.


Of course he has to have some minimal connection with the real world, just as one assumes Jerry Seinfeld sometimes has experiences with lost airline luggage and surly cabbies upon which to base HIS material.


Not nearly the same thing in terms of influence. I'll agree that, in a rational world, Rush WOULD be equated with Seinfeld rather than being the de-facto spokesperson for a major political party.


As to whether the media, goverment, academia and science are corrupt....nah, well, maybe in Illinois but not globally.


Ouch! As a Chicagoan-born and a lifetime sururban resident, that one hurts, but I can't exactly deny it. Shortly after the 2008 election, when it looked as if Rahm Emmanuel might be the next president from 2016-2024, I liked to assert that "Illinois is the new Virginia" (in the sense of producing Presidents). A few months later, after the Blagojevitch thing really took off, I had to acknowledge that maybe we're the "new Louisiana" instead.


I am counting on adults here to rise above the narrative of the day (I figure we are due for our quarterly dose of Scary Christian Militia pretty soon).


Isn't a near-miss terrorist bombing due for October?


It might be interesting to hear people handicap their local races...how's things looking on your patches of ground?


In my district, Mark Kirk (R) blew an almost-sure thing at winning Obama's former Senate seat, and it appears to be safely blue for now.

BTW, Tacitus, I'm glad to see when you end your periods of self-exile from posting here. I know you often feel your point of view to be a besieged one, but you're one of the few vocal conservatives I know (make that "know") who actually argues rationally, and I'm always glad to hear your thoughts. I recently lost contact with my old honest-conservative buddy who now seems firmly convinced that I'm on the side of America's enemies, while I'm firmly convinced that he's gone insane. But I miss the conversations we used to have.

LarryHart said...

sorry for the double-post. Blogger is acting flaky again.

Tony Fisk said...

You know, a couple of years ago, I was pointed to a website promoting the 2006 Waterfall development conference. Since pure waterfall methodologies were given the old heave-ho twenty years ago, and since the date was fairly revealing, I quickly realised it was a rather funny spoof (I hope Alisdair Cockburn didn't mind his alter ego!) and got a good chuckle out of it.

Not so the catholic conference on Geocentrism!!

I always found it ironic that, while he was engaged in working out laws of celestial mechanics, Kepler was continually distracted by a need to earn a living (by writing horoscopes) and attending to family matters (his mother being accused of witchcraft).

Now I see that not much has changed!

(Mind you, I suspect the average Jesuit would be equally incredulous of this rubbish! I wonder if Patrick Moore could be persuaded to attend as his old UFOlogist alias Prof. Herder Kaus??)

Tacitus2 said...

LarryH

I don't self exile much, but do try to heed when the political lamp is lit or not.
Regards Rush as a Seinfeld analog, I think the point holds a bit of validity. But lets make it stronger. How many people, young people mostly but people in general, form their political opinions in part based on Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report? The lines between news and entertainment are hardly indelible.

I actually enjoy Mr. Stewart, he is partisan and unapologetic about it. But he can see the ludicrous things on both sides of the political spectrum, and is brave enough to have at 'em.

There is a conservative counterpart, not on TV, but strictly an internet phenomenom. But most of you are not ready for the fearsome Iowahawk at your stage of political awareness!

Tacitus2

Ilithi Dragon said...

Hmm... The Galileo link isn't working on my work PC, which is probably a good thing since I really don't need to have my brain leaking out my ears any more as it is, being a Monday and all...

Tacitus:
It seems to me that, by-and-large, there is a fair bit of agreement here between you and the 'left leaning' posters here (myself included), we just tend to get hung up on definitions of Left vs Right, This Party vs That Party, and Who Did What/Who Was the Bigger Villain. Sometimes a generality that applies to Insane Republicans/Neo-Cons will be applied to you, and often times I've seen you take criticism of the Insane Right (differentiated from the Sane Right, which is all to rare these days) as being applied to all Republicans/Conservatives when it usually isn't. Insofar as I can tell, most here, especially the regular posters, differentiate between Sane and Insane Republicans/Conservatives, and appreciate the former but are sick of the latter; the dialogue here tends to apply the Republican/Conservative label to the Insane Right as the default, with special notations when referring to the Sane Right, due to the prominence and pervasiveness of the former in the GOP/general politics today. Perhaps we should better clarify this, as it seems to lead to misunderstanding and conflicts that are really only a matter of mismatching semantics.

We all appreciate your presence here as a Sane Conservative, and while we certainly disagree on which specific policies or variations of policies work best, or to what degree they should be implemented (a good thing, because it leads to discussion and debate and testing and analysis), any disagreement or conflict beyond that I suspect is largely due to a lack of distinction between Sane and Insane Republicans/Conservatives, and recognition that we consider you to be the former and not the latter (and are therefore not included in criticisms of them).

Jacob said...

Now you're just being contrary. Jon Stewart does not push an agenda anywhere near the popular Conservative media types do. He also often attacks Democrats for their crap, rather than not being "Progressive" enough.

The majority of what he does is question why people aren't consistent with themselves.

Ilithi Dragon said...

On that, Jacob has a point.

Tacitus, on some things (such as Limbaugh vs Stewart above), you seem to be throwing out the "But they do it too!" card. My parents use this card a lot, too(or at least my mother; I don't speak to my father enough for politics to come up very often). The problem is, it's not true. Or, as Jacob pointed out, only appears so when you take the base surface details.

Yes, there are political entertainer pundits on the 'left' that people on the 'left' listen to, and who are often highly respected. But the similarity ends there. Limbaugh has mentioned in obscure interviews that he considers himself an entertainer, and so has Beck. Stewart and Colbert make the fact that they are entertainers painfully obvious as a daily matter of course, and Stewart uses it as part of his entertainment act. He, especially, rubs the fact that he's a political entertainer in people's faces. Limbaugh, Beck, etc. do not.
Stewart also bases all his work in fact, or parody of fact. He draws his humor from the truth (as many of the best comedians do; reality does have a way of turning out to be funnier than anything people can make up,and is even more so because it actually happened). Limbaugh, Beck, et al routinely create fiction and pass it off as truth, with no intent at mockery or parody, no comedic intent at all. Stewart and Colert also have no real agenda beyond getting laughs from politics. Limbaugh, Beck, et al have a definite agenda that is deeply tied to the advancing of the GOP and Republican and corporate-crony interests. The worst behavior that Stuart and Colbert foster are facepalms and headdesks, belly laughs, and the occasional milk-out-the-nose (diabolical, indeed). Limbaugh and Beck foster paranoia, hate, anger, close-mindedness and willful ignorance and rejection of science.

So, yeah, 'they do it to', kinda-sorta, but not really. In the same way that an overt comedian is kinda-sorta but not really the same as a bald-faced liar.

Tacitus2 said...

Well.....

This is Contrary Brin.

And I feel Stewart has widened his range of targets in the last year or two.

Tacitus2

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

Wait. Someone on a site named Contrary Brin is being... contrary? Oh noes! Tell me it isn't so! =^-^=

Rob H.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Tacitus, would you mind posting a link to your Iowahawk site?

Tony, you would appreciate Brother Guy, the Vatican's official astronomer and curator of a fantastic meteorite collection! He is a Jesuit and rigorously scientifically trained, as well as a man of faith.

Ilithi, I think it's more along the lines of comparing overt comedian to street hustler or flim flam artist. Any funny bits are purely incidental.

hanglash: choose your punishment for deliberate misleading of the public.

Tacitus2 said...

www.iowahawk.typepad.com

But you have been warned.

I particularly recommend his take on the Obama campaign...google The Idioddsey and you should find it. And when the Nat.Endowment for the Arts circulated a memo encouraging creative souls to make artworks encouraging the Obama Agenda, Iowahawk had a riposte that was hideously, hilariously, devastating. I even submitted one. Google Iowahawk art project.

The 'hawk is often profane, generally unfair. He is too extreme for my tastes in several areas.

He is also the best satirist currently drawing breath.

Xanax first, Oh my progressive brethern, then Iowahawk.

Tacitus2

Stefan Jones said...

Some mornings The Onion is the only thing that gives me the strength to get through the day:

Nation Once Again Comes Under Sway Of Pink-Faced Half-Wit
NEW YORK—Following an Aug. 28 rally in Washington, D.C. attended by an estimated 87,000 Americans, experts confirmed this week that the U.S. populace appears to have fallen under the spell of yet another pink-faced half-wit.
. . .
"This particular pink-faced half-wit is at the height of his persuasive powers," Ellington said of the bloated, hateful multimillionaire. "By exploiting citizens' greatest anxieties during an uncertain time in our nation's history, the pink-faced half-wit has been able to promote his own vain, avaricious self-interests under the guise of standing up for the very disenfranchised people whom he himself is fleecing."

LarryHart said...

Ilithi Dragon said to Tacitus2:

We all appreciate your presence here as a Sane Conservative, and while we certainly disagree on which specific policies or variations of policies work best, or to what degree they should be implemented (a good thing, because it leads to discussion and debate and testing and analysis), any disagreement or conflict beyond that I suspect is largely due to a lack of distinction between Sane and Insane Republicans/Conservatives, and recognition that we consider you to be the former and not the latter (and are therefore not included in criticisms of them).


Illithi, while you speak what is on many of our minds, a word or two of caution.

First of all, it will not necessarily be taken as a compliment to tell someone "I don't like members of group-X, but it's ok that YOU are in that group because you're not LIKE the rest of them." I know that my mother as a teenager didn't appreciate (and still remembers after 50-some years) the "compliment" of being told that she (Mom) wasn't as bad as most Jewish girls. So I'm not sure it's a good idea to keep using that sort of line with our friend Tacitus.

Secondly--and I'm going way off on a tangent here--I want to reiterate that I don't "hate" conservatives per se, and I don't have anything against "the rich" in general either. Over the past ten or so years, I've come to identify the attitude I think is wrongheaded and dangerous as "Corporatistm". Corporatism masks itself as "pro-CAPITALISM", but true capitalism is about fair competition and justice in allocating rewards for value, whereas corporatism is about an unholy alliance between politics and a clique of big business which rigs everything in its own favor.

Republicans have been the corporatist party for a century or so, but the last 20 to 30 years have shown that Democrats are not immune from hopping on that bandwagon either.

The corporatists are definitely "right wing", in the original sense of the term. To be against corporatism or to fear that corporatism harms our country does not necessarily make one "left wing". Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and even Richard Nixon would probably be aghast at what their party has come to stand for these days. So while I freely admit animosity toward "the right" in contemporary American politics, I don't tend to identify myself as belonging to "the left". I'm an American who believes in the country my father taught me I lived in back when the earth was cooling in the 1960s, the one which keeps a steady course BETWEEN the Scylla and Charybdis of leftist and rightist ideology. And during the 2008 election, I was saying "I want my country back" when the Tea Party was not even a twinkle in Sarah Palin's eye.

I truly love my country and I truly believe in American exceptionalism. The bombastic righty-talkers mouth those same platitudes, but their actions belie their words. If it makes more sense to offshore jobs and to avoid taxes than it does to invest in the infrastructure of the country that enables you to become wealthy, then in what sense does one "love" America other than the sense in which a man "loves" a good steak dinner?

Ilithi Dragon said...

LarryHart said...

Illithi, while you speak what is on many of our minds, a word or two of caution.

First of all, it will not necessarily be taken as a compliment to tell someone "I don't like members of group-X, but it's ok that YOU are in that group because you're not LIKE the rest of them." I know that my mother as a teenager didn't appreciate (and still remembers after 50-some years) the "compliment" of being told that she (Mom) wasn't as bad as most Jewish girls. So I'm not sure it's a good idea to keep using that sort of line with our friend Tacitus.


I understand what you mean, and am familiar with that, and I apologize to Tacitus, if that is how I came across. It has been my understanding that Tacitus has expressed dislike for elements of the GOP/Conservative movement that have betrayed the tenants of that movement, and it was those elements of mutual dislike to which I was referring to when saying the "Insane Right." No doubt that not everyone who associates with the GOP or the conservative movement are insane, or even mislead. There are still honest conservatives out there, men and women like Tacitus who aren't drawn in by the likes of Limbaugh and Beck and Palin. These are the 'Sane Right' (and I cannot emphasize enough the air quotes on 'left' and 'right'; I use the left/right terms only for the sake of convenience, and with heavy sarcasm). Unfortunately, it is undeniably clear that the likes of Limbaugh, Beck and Palin are dominating control of the voice and direction of the Republican Party, and through it the Conservative movement here in the U.S. These are the "Insane Republicans," and their majority influence and control cannot be denied.

Perhaps it would be better clarified as people who associate with the Republican Party/Conservatism who are still sane, and people who associate with the Republican Party/Conservatism who are not sane?


Secondly--and I'm going way off on a tangent here--I want to reiterate that I don't "hate" conservatives per se, and I don't have anything against "the rich" in general either. Over the past ten or so years, I've come to identify the attitude I think is wrongheaded and dangerous as "Corporatistm". Corporatism masks itself as "pro-CAPITALISM", but true capitalism is about fair competition and justice in allocating rewards for value, whereas corporatism is about an unholy alliance between politics and a clique of big business which rigs everything in its own favor.

Republicans have been the corporatist party for a century or so, but the last 20 to 30 years have shown that Democrats are not immune from hopping on that bandwagon either.

The corporatists are definitely "right wing", in the original sense of the term. To be against corporatism or to fear that corporatism harms our country does not necessarily make one "left wing". Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and even Richard Nixon would probably be aghast at what their party has come to stand for these days. So while I freely admit animosity toward "the right" in contemporary American politics, I don't tend to identify myself as belonging to "the left". I'm an American who believes in the country my father taught me I lived in back when the earth was cooling in the 1960s, the one which keeps a steady course BETWEEN the Scylla and Charybdis of leftist and rightist ideology. And during the 2008 election, I was saying "I want my country back" when the Tea Party was not even a twinkle in Sarah Palin's eye.


I definitely agree with your tangent here, Larry. Much of the problem as a whole, I think, is founded on the extreme emphasis and reliance on the use of the LvR political axis. We're trying to fly to the moon in a rocket ship that can only move left or right.

Robert said...

My father actually came up with a logical method of ensuring fairness in political elections. It's something I agree with though I did keep telling my father that people would call it Socialism. Not because it's socialism, mind you, but because it's the word that the Far Right tends to bandy about when it talks about not letting Corporations do whatever they want.

His thought? As part of the licensing process for all radio, cable shows, and television broadcasters out there, lower their fees. In return, these organizations are bound by contract to give equal advertising time for all political candidates.

Then ban all paid political advertising. You want to advertise? You get the same shot everyone else gets. And in turn, you do not owe anyone (but the American people) anything for getting elected. Mind you, this ban goes for non-profit groups as well. No one is allowed to spend money or donate money toward a political cause. It's all taken care of in the licensing processes for television, radio, and cable.

As for newspapers? They're on their way out, so does it really matter what they say?

Naturally, this would need some polishing to get set up properly. And rather than rely on our political leaders, why not have a National Referendum on this, and let the People vote it in?

Rob H.

Tacitus2 said...

On the ground, Wisconsin.

Record turnout for primaries expected tomorrow....lots of very competitive races. For me there are open seats for Governor, House of Rep. and (state) assembly.

And there will be some interesting match ups in the general election as well.

We can vote either party in the primary, but can't mix-n-match.

Last time around I voted in the Dem primary, cast my vote for Obama. And since WI was the turning point in his campaign I deserve my measure of credit/blame for the current admin.

For assembly there are something like 6 Republicans vying for the job. Several have stopped by to ask for my vote. I like the retired army colonel, but think I am going with the truck driver. She seems sharp, and promises frugality. In the general there will be a Dem who is a retired life time civil servant. A glum but capable administrator, but one for whom fiscal restraint would not come easily.

For congress, Dave Obey has finally hung it up. Once a hard working progressive firebrand he has become a cranky porkmeister. I know, I have been at a few Dem fundraisers with the man. (oddly, the Repubs never invite me!). On the R side a Scott Brownish DA who is a little too good lookin' vs a perennial candidate who made the error of posing for the local paper wearing an orange shirt. (looks like he is doing the County Jail Perp walk!). The DA is married to a Hispanic woman, and to his credit makes no big deal of this. Post racial America indeed.

Looking ahead I may well cast a vote for Feingold in the general....we need some principled progressives around, and he annoys his party at least as much as he annoys the other side!

Democracy in action tomorrow!

Tacitus2

Tony Fisk said...

Sounds like a heady brew, T2.

Can you achieve the enlightenment of the 'middle path' that UK and Australia are currently teetering on?

On the issues of gloomy futures, New Scientists list the top 11 unlikely scientific discoveries that never would have been had the bean counters been involved.

firsel: the roadside wildfolk who sell christmas trees.

Jacob said...

Hi Robert,

Remember that money will find a way unless there are a lot of harsh laws to discourage cheating. How do we deal with someone who unemployed being willing to pass out fliers for $20 an hour? Aren't they allowed to claim freedom of speech if they are told not to admit they are being paid?

Would advertising be limited in this model to cspan(s) and .gov radio casts?

I'm not trying to be negative. Rather, I'd like to engage you to learn more about the ideas.

Ilithi Dragon said...

So the Republican congress critters, especially in the Senate, are trying to tell us that it is the rich that drive the economy (re the Bush tax cut issue). Same old supply-side economics BS they've been spinning for decades now, but I can't help but wonder how hard it would be to pull up multiple statements from each of them about the middle class being the drivers of the economy...

Not that it would convince many people who still accept the fantasy of SSE.

LarryHart said...

Illithi:

So the Republican congress critters, especially in the Senate, are trying to tell us that it is the rich that drive the economy (re the Bush tax cut issue). Same old supply-side economics BS they've been spinning for decades now...


I heard that line of Mitch McConnel's on the radio this morning. He's really going with the uber-wealthy as "the ones MOST HURT by the economic slowdown"?? (emphasis mine) I'm guessing we're going to hear some backpedaling on that one pretty quickly.

But you are correct that "the rich drive the economy" is the latest meme saturating the media as if it were Revealed Truth. It has a certain amount of truth to it, but only enough to muddy the water. Yes, the big corporations are a fountain of wealth, but the righty talkers make it sound as if they're just waiting for "stability" (read a GOP victory) to be confident enough to start paying employees again. The fact is, they've taken as their mandated to ELIMINATE as many employees as possible and to offshore what's left.

Here's what's sad. Almost a century ago, Henry Ford decided to pay his people more than the standard wage in order that they could afford to buy his cars. In effect, he elevated his work force into the middle class so that they could drive demand. Now, the model is no longer Henry Ford, but Wal-Mart, who's analogous model seems to be to IMPOVERISH their employees so that they can ONLY afford to shop at Wal-Mart.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article on America's culture wars here:
http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_forever_culture_war

Thinking back, our culture wars hail to at least the 1910s, when german schnausers got kicked to death during the Great War and orchestras refused to play Beethoven and Wagner. The 1920s saw massive culture wars against immigrants, particularly from central Europe, while the 1930s offered us the Red Scare and anti-communist hysteria. The 1940s of course saw a culture war against Japanese-Americans, while the 1950s gave us McCarthyism.

So dating America's culture wars from the 1960s seems wide of the mark. The current anti-Muslim hysteria seems yet another irruption of panic at "the Other," in anthropological terms.

Rob Perkins said...

The only problem with the rich-drive-economy meme is that right now, they're not doing any driving. They're sitting at the rest area with the engine off drinking appletinis with their buddies. If it were otherwise, then 3/4 of my unemployed friends around here would be at work.

LarryHart said...


The only problem with the rich-drive-economy meme is that right now, they're not doing any driving. They're sitting at the rest area with the engine off drinking appletinis with their buddies.


Exactly! That's the lie in a nutshell. The idea that, for example, banks just need government to get off of their backs so they can start lending out money to small businesses and mortgageholders is (to quote Charles Emerson Winchester) ab-ZURD. They're not lending money because they make more profit by playing games with the Fed and engaging in risky bets on Wall Street (secure in the knowledge that taxpayers will eat any losses). Likewise, big companies aren't just waiting for an economic climate more condusive to taking on employees--they're shedding employees as quickly as they can to claim short-term savings that can be paid out in executive bonuses, no matter the long term effect on the company or the nation.

What drives the economy is (self-evidently) not supply, but demand. When there is demand for a good or service backed up by money to pay for it (in the hands of the DEMAND-side), THEN the rich and powerful will invest in a way to satisfy that demand. Yes, they will get richer and more powerful themselves in doing so, but THAT is how capitalism works. It really IS a rising tide that lifts all boats.

But that's real, Demand-side capitalism. "Supply-side" makes no sense. The elder George Bush was correct in 1980 when he named it "voodoo economics". The idea that more money in their hands would cause hoarders of weatlh to spread it around more is (again) ab-ZURD!

I've said this before on this blog, but it's been awhile. "Trickle-down" is a misleading metaphor, making one imagine weatlh as something that works its way from high to low concentrations. Instead of water, imagine wealth as something that naturally rises, such as the heat in your oven. No matter where you start it, it will end up concentrated at the top. But if you inject money into the system at the BOTTOM, it does useful "work" on the way up. That's the whole point of an economic stimulus. If (as the Supply-Siders would have it) you inject wealth at the TOP, it just stays there, having done nothing useful at all.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2 said from Wisconsin:


Democracy in action tomorrow!


You bet. There's no primary going on here in Illinois, but I'm watching the Delaware GOP Senate primary with interest. Will the Republican primary voters do what their party establishment wants them to and send Mike Castle to an almost certain Senate seat in November, or will they give the Party establishment the kind of "eff you!" they gave in Kentucky, Utah, and Nevada by nominating Palin-favored Christine O'Donnel, who will almost certainly lose that relatively-Blue State in November, dashing any possible GOP hopes of taking the Senate? Tonight's results may decide if the GOP is really serious about governing, or if they're just an out of control lynch mob eating their own until there's no one left to turn out the lights.

Rob Perkins said...

No no no... Supply Side economics really works!

For example: The price of gasoline around here hovers at about $3/gallon. This means someone like me, who has a home office and a passel of kids, *must* surrender... about $100/month to buy vehicle fuel. Probably the average worker/commuter surrenders triple that.

*In exchange*, my wealth goes to the oil company, they make their profits, and pay their dividends. As a 401K holder of oil company stock, I receive from their dividends. Lately that's been about... oh... $0.50/year.

See how well it works? I spend $1200, and I get $0.50 in new wealth! What an investment!

(Yes, I know I'm leaving aside the direct benefit of the use of the fuel I bought. But thanks to my grandparents' decisions I don't really have much of a choice about whether to buy it. That means... it's a tax, for all intents and purposes!)

(I should have said, "drinking appletinis and playing poker" instead of just "drinking appletinis".

LarryHart said...

Rob Perkins:

(Yes, I know I'm leaving aside the direct benefit of the use of the fuel I bought. But thanks to my grandparents' decisions I don't really have much of a choice about whether to buy it. That means... it's a tax, for all intents and purposes!)


No, no, you socialist dupe. Don't you understand anything?

A "tax" is extracted from you at the point of a gun. That's the kind of socialism you might find in evil countries like Canada or Denmark.

Fortunately for you, you ungrateful cur, you live in AMERICA! Here, we protect the oil company's FREEDOM to set a price for its product, and your FREEDOM to buy it if you so desire. See, all your wanting and hoping and wishing wouldn't fill your gas tank without the oil companies' willingness to do the work necessary to get that oil into a form useful to engines. Only because of their investment are you free to purchase a product that will run your car. You and your oil company are free, independent agents making a mutually-beneficial transaction of your own free will, just as you and your insurance company are free to set a mutually-acceptable price on the lives of your loved ones.

And as to how exactly the oil itself became the PROPERTY of the oil companies rather that that of the individual landowners or the national commons? Uhhhh...pay no attention to the corporatism behind the curtain.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Re Rich driving the economy:

I was going to comment here but realized my broad-subject rant would exceed the character limit many times over, so I made a blog post.

The point-specific relevant bits:

First, Economics 101: The total amount of money that exists within an economy is not as important as the amount of money that is actually flowing through the economy.

We could all have a billion dollars, but if we don't spend any of it, the economy isn't going anywhere. If we all made $36,000/year and spent 95% of it each year, the economy would be booming (assuming everything else involved in an economy wasn't buggered up too badly).


and

Stockpiling wealth is a money trap. It pulls money out of economic circulation, weakening the economy because the total amount of money in the economy is the same, but the percentage moving through it is reduced. Now, this is not a universally bad thing. Savings by the lower- and middle-classes are money-traps, but this is not a bad thing because the total value of the savings relative to the economy as a whole is trivial, and it also provides a safety net for the lower- and middle-classes during bumps in the economic road. This can trigger or magnify the effects of an economic downturn if increased significantly during times of uncertainty, but these are usually side-effects of other issues or factors. In general, the wealth-stockpiling of lower- and middle-class savings is not a negative thing because it is not a significant long-term money trap.

It is when we get to the rich, the top 1% of wealth-owners and income-earners, that wealth-stockpiling turns into serious money-trapping. Vast quantities of wealth are pulled from the economy and trapped by a small handful of people. Now, even this is not always a bad thing, and being rich isn't bad in-and-of-itself. In fact, a class of rich people, who have significant stockpiles of wealth, can be of great benefit to the economy by providing buying power and investment capital for companies and projects that would not get off the ground otherwise. When the rich use their wealth to reinvest in the economy, their wealth-stockpiling is not a money-trap, but rather an economic force-concentrator, gathering wealth together to be able to provide economic heavy-lifting services.

It is when that stockpiled wealth is not reinvested in the economy and the civilization that provided the ability and opportunity to stockpile the wealth in the first place, but is instead sat on, or worse, directed to increase the wealth stockpiled for the sake of increasing the wealth stockpiled, so that more economic power can be applied to further increasing the wealth stockpiled, etc., and/or that economic power is used to push agendas and policies and practicies that benefit the owners of the wealth and their associates, at the expense of the non-wealthy, that they become economy-damaging money-traps.

Rob Perkins said...

Fortunately for you, you ungrateful cur, you live in AMERICA!

That would be the land where my employer added $2500 to my income this year, ALL of which went to a health insurance premium increase?

Gilmoure said...

Tacitus2 said... Last time around I voted in the Dem primary, cast my vote for Obama. And since WI was the turning point in his campaign I deserve my measure of credit/blame for the current admin.

Heh. I was a registered Republican in Florida, back in the '90's. Given a choice between Bush and Gore, voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. D'oh!

Ilithi Dragon said...

Damnit, Gilmore, you ruined your chance to be the swing vote! And condemned us to 8 years of shrubbery! I hope you burn in butterscotch pudding!

Tony Fisk said...

Mmmmm! Shrubbery...! (Oh, sorry, I meant butterscotch pudding)

It occurs to me that the last two years of US government debate runs a bit like this script

As a non-participant, I'll leave it to you to choose sides.

David Brin said...

Wow... you guys is lively!!

David Brin said...

Over at the SIGMA site, some old sci fi author farts actually said some BS in defense of the Confederacy. I am afraid I got a bit carried away in response. Not this is very purple and very informal... for a comments section, not a formal posting.

====
I do not deny that the Southern states had a legitimate paper grievance, when Northern states pushed for high tariffs vs imported manufactures. History proves Hamilton to have been right, that the US needed to follow that path toward establishing its own native industries. But the Jeffersonians had a legitimate moral point on that issue, in that the government should not make things more expensive without some compensatory actions.

Compensation did come, in the form of favorable treatment for southern railroads, the one form of industrialization that the plantation aristocracy saw as favorable, and that they did not impede.

Rationalizations for confederate treason abounded - and still abound today. The "states rights" cry is absurd on the face of it. No description is ever actually made, of real, palpable legislation that was on the docket, in 1860, would have limited such rights. Just arm-waving rants.

In fact, we forget what filled the pages of the secessionist rags, in 1860-1. Perpetual reprintings of fox-style excerpts from Jefferson's prose, in the Declaration of Independence. Never the whole text, but snippets out of context, all toward the lesson that a state or province or individual may BREAK OATHS OF LOYALTY, when impelled to do so by treachery from above.

Scan the text of the preamble:

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

This is the Lockean core, the basis for both 1776 and 1861 lies in the SOCIAL CONTRACT, both implicit and explicit, and the right to fire a chief of state, or even the state, if pushed too far.

This is the essential root - not tariffs - since southerners, as romantics, were brought up to take oaths very seriously. (Mark Twain blamed Sir Walter Scott for the Southern Calamity and, in terms of personality, the romantic curse continues to this day. The enlightenment has always seemed dubious.)

Moreover, oaths of loyalty to the United States of America were routine, repeated and frequent in those days, whereas few states ever had (pre-1860) demanded oaths of their own. Hence, the Lockean justification was essential!

In the 1860-1 southern sheets you see frequent allusion to Jefferson's preamble, without actual focus on the "opinions of mankind" which had turned almost universally against slavery. Nor to the far more important phrase "declare the causes."

There were 'causes' declared! But all of them in purple prose, bereft of fact or content. Abraham Lincoln was declared a "tyrant" (and far worse) before he had been sworn in or taken a single official act.

In contrast, in 1776, after the Declaration's preamble, comes a litany of very specific grievances against King and Parliament, covering decades and punctuated by recitations of repeated attempts to send delegations, petitions and entreaties for negotiated settlement.

Nothing even remotely like any of this is mentioned in the 1860-1861 rants...

.... for the simple reason that not a single delegation was ever sent to Lincoln, to ask his intentions, to negotiate calming statements or to hammer out a way for the South to maintain its pride or vital interests, while at the same time, not stomping off like spoiled brat sore losers, in a fit of "I must ALWAYS WIN!" post-election pique.

==>continued

David Brin said...

==> continuing

It is this failure to send even a single delegation, or to wait for a set of palpable grievances, that boils the matter down to fundamentals. People who have taken solemn oaths -- e.g. to a King -- MAY void their oaths, if they have made strenuous good faith efforts to find a way to both keep them and palliate the grievances caused by top-town betrayal!

BUT THE ABSOLUTE ABSENCE OF ANY SUCH EFFORTS, PRIOR TO SECESSION, MAKE ALL SOUTHERN REFERENCES TO THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, OR TO LOCKEAN SOCIAL CONTRACT-BREAKING, A MOCKERY.

There are no Lockean justifications. None whatsoever, at any level, in any way, shape or form. The Secessionists were utter oath-breakers and traitors, without the slightest glimmer of shading or excuse.

In fact, were there a dictionary entry for open and knowing foresworn traitors, Jefferson Davis should be the line-drawn illustration. (Just months before secession, he urged West Point graduates to keep their oaths to the United States, till their last breath.)

Look, I have sympathy for the quarter of a million poor southern whites, who marched off to the drumbeat of populist propaganda. They were puppets of their oligarchs, but they were freaking-BRAVE puppets! And their military exploits are worthy of legend. I can weep at the right places, watching GETTYSBURG. (I have less sympathy for Robert E Lee... who could have shortened the war, if he remembered his oath.)

But as I watch the exact same regional personality traits being milked, once again, in an apparently deliberate effort to weaken America by plunging us into Civil War, do not expect me to stand by. I love this country, with almost Heinleinian zeal, for what it has done and been, but also largely for what it can do in the future, wielding ambitious pragmatism, goodwill, humor and a love of science -- all of which are under strenuous attack, as we speak.

Though it may make me sound as radical as John Brown seemed, in 1856, I refuse to soft-pedal what I fear is being inflicted upon us.

Again, I'll not be lectured to about patriotism, by men who fantasize about riding with that horrific son of a bitch, Nathan Bedford Forest. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was the diametrically opposite role model - brave & brilliant, yet also kindly, scientific, egalitarian and future-oriented -- and I pick him.

If it ever comes down to it. I know what color I'll be wearing.

David Brin said...

And on a completely different note...

An APPEAL! Does anyone have the capability to rip for me the 1st 5 minutes of the 1980s motion picture ALIEN NATION? It is entirely for educational purposes, for a lecture at UCSD, comparing it to the recent film DISTRICT 9.

Needed pretty darn soon. Thanks!

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Tim H. said...

I derive some amusement from knowing that "Rule 34" applies to spammers as much as anything else on the 'net.

Tim H. said...

These days one could suspect a malevolent master plan behind the extreme right, but I think it's merely an appetite, a lust for more and a desire that it be easy to retain. It concerns them little that the economy they're shaping under-performs and new fortunes are rare, all must serve the cause protecting existing fortune. No solution to any difficulty can be considered, unless it can be phrased as "Tax reduction", or "Exclusive business for friends". They lure working class folks with the vain hope that it might someday be their turn for a tax cut, and it might make up a little for the elite's long affair with China. It may get much worse before it gets better.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin says of the Civil War:

There were 'causes' declared! But all of them in purple prose, bereft of fact or content. Abraham Lincoln was declared a "tyrant" (and far worse) before he had been sworn in or taken a single official act.


Geez, Louise, which more recent Illinois president does THAT remind you of?

Stuart said...

My mother was recently researching for a history book, and ran across a Civil War diary of a Union commander who quartered his troops on someone's farm (I forget where) and listened to the farmer's theory about how the Civil War was a useless war engineered to make common people fight each other for the enrichment of war profiteers. The more things change, eh?

Ilithi Dragon said...

"War... War never changes..."


The Tea Party overthrowing of party-backed GOP candidates in the primaries heralds good news for the Dems, as it sabotages the Republican chances of winning in the main elections.

I suspect that, even if the Tea Party-backed candidates win the main elections, it will be bad for the GOP because the freshman TPers will be even more radically shifted towards the ultra-conservative/neo-con range of the spectrum, possibly alienating the (relatively) more moderate GOPpers, and the conflict between TP and mainstream GOP ideals and principles could well fracture the lock-step GOP party line.

Tim H. said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the GOP wins seats this fall, but I expect they'll squander this advantage by acting exclusively for their sponsors. There may be a little hope if they learn to share their toys and play nice.

Marino said...

David brin wrote:
And on a completely different note...

An APPEAL! Does anyone have the capability to rip for me the 1st 5 minutes of the 1980s motion picture ALIEN NATION?

pity... I own it on DVD, but I never ripped a video track, my home computer freezes when dealing with image-heavy content (maybe it's the old video card), and probably five minutes of video are too large a file to email.
btw, re: comparison. in Alien Nation the attitude towards the aliens is more open-minded, friendly and welcoming, but said aliens are more humanoid,they can assimilate easier (see the American Dream home and family of Sam Francisco the alien detective).
The Prawns are less human, live on welfare, can't assimilate because they're too dumb... it's like the aliens in Alien Nation are like Italian, Irish or Asian immigrants, while Prawns look a lot more like the stereotypical racist view of Roma/gypsies living in huts made from garbage and surviving by pilfering or panhandling.

LarryHart said...

Illithi Dragon:

The Tea Party overthrowing of party-backed GOP candidates in the primaries heralds good news for the Dems, as it sabotages the Republican chances of winning in the main elections.


I'm always cautious about stuff like this. The Delaware upset appears to be a win for my side, but even Keith Olbermann was pointing out last night that if O'Donnell could pull off one upset victory that no one expected a week ago, she could pull off another one in November. Hey, I was nervous the week before the 2008 elections too, so that's just how I am. I do see Delaware as a net positive for Democrats, but I'm unwilling to pop the champagne corks for a "sure win" just yet.

That said, the Tea Party does seem to demand ideology over electability, and while that might be a good (from thier point of view) strategy in a general election, I think they misread what a Primary is all about. We've come to think of the primaries as a sort of semi-finals, where the object of the "game" is the same as it is in the general election--for the candidate we personally prefer to win. That's not really what primaries are all about. The object of a primary is to pick a candidate who you (the individual voter) can live with AND who has a good chance of winning in November. A Tea Party favorite might have a good chance in Alaska, but not so much in Delaware. As insane as they often seem to be, the GOP leadership DOES understand that you have to consider the local audience. The Tea Party has no such understanding. It's their way or the highway (even if "the highway" seems to be the foregone conclusion).

If they're thinking strategically at all, they seem to be banking on the average voter being so dissatisfied with the status quo that they'll vote the (Democratic) bums out. But they have to keep up a high level of legerdemain in order for people not to realize that the things they are dissatisfied with (deficits, outsourcing, baliouts for banks and AiG) are things that Republicans WILL DO MORE OF. And if the voters don't see that in 2010, they'll have been made well aware of it again by 2012.

Tacitus2 said...

I am going to strive hard to not speak the heresy of "equivalence", lest the orthodoxy be disturbed.
But there have been many other instances of apparently moderate, reasonable politicians being tossed out when the political wind takes a sudden stormy turn....

Regards Delaware, I suppose the following scenarios are possible.

1. the Democrat wins. Either by a commanding margain, or by a squeeker. The latter would be better, as all elected officials should remain mindful of the opinions of their employers.

2. The Republican wins and is dreadful. Again, not the worst case scenario. It gives the D's a new foil and teaches the R's a lesson about how the real world works. Hopefully she does not get any meaningful committee seats, but I should think the Elephant Party Brass would be sure on that point.

3. The Republican wins and is OK. People sometimes do not live up to or down to expectations.

Democracy is an untidy business, and is designed to be.

I don't get a vote in Delaware, so I can't comment on the suitability of this individual for the public trust. I do have confidence that an informed citizenry can do as we always do, consider, pick and hope for the better case scenarios.

Tacitus2

oh, and my Assembly candidate choice? The truck driver? Finished last.

LarryHart said...

I don't vote in Delaware either. My concern with congress, as it has been since the Clinton impeachment, is which party runs the agenda. Thus, how good the Senator from Delaware is means less to me than whether or not he/she helps the GOP take over the chamber.

Your three choices extrapolated to that level become (my changes emphasised):

1. the Democrats hang on. Either by a commanding margain, or by a squeeker. The latter would be better, as all elected officials should remain mindful of the opinions of their employers.

2. The Republicans win and are dreadful. Again, not the worst case scenario. It gives the D's a new foil and reminds the voters why they kicked thse guys out two years ago. Hopefully they don't get the chance to do too much real damage by 2012.

3. The Republicans win and are OK. People sometimes do not live up to or down to expectations.

I give #3 about a snowball's chance in Hell of actually happening. The media seem to want us to believe that some combination of #2 or #3 is inevitable, but I'm going with #1 as a squeaker for my predictions registry. Which might turn out worse for Democrats in 2012, btw, since they'll continue to be blamed for everything that's gone and will go wrong.

Rob said...

Explain how #2 is not the worst case scenario.

And which one of the 3 options IS the worst case scenario?

Rob Perkins said...

People shooting each other over political differences is the worst case scenario.

LarryHart said...

Rob,

It depends if you're asking me or Tacitus. I altered the sense of his three points from a one-Senator perspective to a whole-Senate perspective. Not to mention we root for different teams.

But if you were asking me...

The absolute worst case scenario is that the GOP takes congress and then somehow manages to go on to win more in 2012. But I think that's unlikely to happen. Seldon's laws work against them (heh). The disaffected voters are disaffected precisely because of Republican policies of the past 30 years, and it's only their short memories that allow them to lash out at Democrats IN FAVOR OF Republicans in that anger. Two years of Republicans in charge of anything will remind them who they're actually pissed at.

So for me, the more LIKELY worst case scenario is #1 (Democrats keep both congressional chambers by a close call) FOLLOWED BY two more years of the voters blaming Democrats for their troubles. If the prevailing meme out there in 2012 is that the answer to our problems is to vote GOP, then they'll be in a position to do more damage.

Rob said...

Here's my takes on those 3 options:

1) Democrats win big. Things go on as before; our center-right corporatist government continues to bumble along, not really taking the decisive action needed to live out their supposed ideals as Democrats and work for the betterment of society through government action. Ho hum, but not a disaster.

2) Republicans win big. If they do win big they WILL be terrible, a disastrous result taking us back to the glory days of the 1990's (minus the booming economy papering over just how truly awful it really was, politically). Plans are already in the works for extensive Congressional inquiries into President Obama's ancestry, possibly leading to impeachment proceedings. All "major" reforms enacted (even though they were so watered down by the corporatist Dems as to be essentially minor ones) will be scrutinized minutely, with an eye towards repeal as damaging to the nation. Look forward to two more years of deep know-nothingism driving us even further into the ditch.

3) Reps win small. Essentially the same as option #1, really, just with an extra shot of "party of no" obstructionism and less chance of wheedling enough crossover votes of "moderate" Reps to overcome the continuing tide of filibusters.

rewinn said...

3 Stories the corporate media doesn't think are very important:

Deficit is decreasing, not increasing

Progressives win Primaries

October 2 'One Nation Working Together' rally in DC.

Stefan Jones said...

OK. Now Rush is attacking Rove for dissing O'Donnel.

The GOP may call itself a Big Tent party, but if you don't dance in lockstep you get thrown to the wolves, and the dance is increasingly favoring the right foot.

* * *

Of course, living with a Congress dominated by a Tea Bagger influenced GOP would be disasterous but entertaining, in a "Dear God, it's like we're living in a collaboration between Cyril Kornbluth and Douglas Adams" kind of way.

Can you imagine O'Donnel's anti-masturbation campaign becoming federal policy?

Tacitus2 said...

Briefly (gotta head to work) the WORST case scenario would be, hold onto your seats*, the GOP taking both houses of congress by small margains and believing that they have a mandate. Much nonsense would ensue, bad for the country, bad for the Republican Party, a god send to Dem fund raisers and Keith Olbermann, for neither of whom do I give a fig.

And to no real purpose, as it now takes a 60 vote Senate supermajority to enact major change.

We may be returning to an earlier era where eastern seaboard grandees shared the halls of congress with buckskin clad frontiersmen, the former whiffing snuff the latter not even bothering to aim for the congressional spitoons. A colorful era, with much progress and folly.

Most likely November outcome, and I am seldom far off in these prognogs, Republican House 'o Rep, Democrat Senate with 51 seats (plus the VP to break ties).

Tacitus2
*hah, just reread the post prior to hitting send. a subliminal pun--the best kind.

David Brin said...

Welcome back Tacitus. How do you like all the moddies sending you notes saying how welcome you are here? ;-) We do love you.

Still, any comparisons between Jon Stewart and Rush Limbaugh are esily rebuked by looking at BEHAVIOR.

Stewart regularly has guests who challenge him At least 20% are political foes. He's had Romney, Huckabee and even William $$#! Kristol on at least 3 times EACH. Lynn Cheney, Bush's daughters, Fox News folks...

...and more neocon book authors than you can shake a stick at.

It is here that you see the utter cowardice and hypocrisy of the Beck/Limbaugh/Fox machine. Were they for real, they would have on guests to challenge them. But they do not. Ever.

Heck, Hannity even fired Colmes, who was as wimpy-tepid a shill and pretend -liberal as they come.

QED. Really case proved. Is there any possible response?

LarryHart said...

Stefan Jones:


OK. Now Rush is attacking Rove for dissing O'Donnel.


Heh. It's like watching a snake eat its own tail. I'm not even sure which one to root for.

Rob:


2) Republicans win big. If they do win big they WILL be terrible, a disastrous result taking us back to the glory days of the 1990's (minus the booming economy papering over just how truly awful it really was, politically). Plans are already in the works for extensive Congressional inquiries into President Obama's ancestry, possibly leading to impeachment proceedings. All "major" reforms enacted (even though they were so watered down by the corporatist Dems as to be essentially minor ones) will be scrutinized minutely, with an eye towards repeal as damaging to the nation.


And THAT is where the ideologues are penny-wise and pound-foolish. Just how do they think they can GET control of the Senate in order to control the agenda that way? Their caucus needs 51 members, full stop.

Had Castle been allowed to almost-certainly take Delaware, that would have put the GOP in a much better place as far as the (still outside) chance that they could actually get the Senate majority. That gives them control of committee assignments and the entire agenda. At that point, what would it MATTER (to them, I mean) if Castle voted differently from them on any individual bill?

But NO, Christine O'Donnell goes on and on about how Castle isn't a "real Republican" and how much he votes like a Democrat, and that the GOP's problem is that they don't purge themselves of people like him. Well, guess what? YOUR FRICKIN PARTY would have been better off having a chance to win in Delaware, and doing so requires catering to a different set of voters than it takes to win Alaska or Utah.

That's the problem with "Washington Outsiders" from either party. They don't know how the system works.

Tacitus2 said...

David
My head is not easily turned by praise or long deterred by brick walls.
Regards the "possible response" I can't claim to be qualified. You would have to, I suppose, actually have time and fortitude to regularly watch Comedy Central and Fox and perhaps MSNBC to boot.
I instead have a life.
But I also have a curiosity question....how do you account for the relative popularity of conservative barking dogs vis a vis progressive ones? Air America? Most Michael Moore flicks? Maybe Jon Stewart takes a different tack because playing the straight liberal counterweight would be ratings poison?
Sorry for raising a light weight point, I am always encouraging discussion of the actual issues and should practice what I preach.

Tacitus2

Tony Fisk said...

T2:

A tentative response might be that popularity goes to whichever set of dogs offers more scope for righteous* indignation.

Tentative because I have a life too**.

---
*OK, now I'm doing the subliminal puns!

** even if it involves watching Richard Stallman auction plush gnus for $320

chyuyar: Central American dance of outrage, often performed with packs of little dogs yapping around the dancers' heels (see also: 'tarantella')

rewinn said...

The world is complex, and no single factoid covers everything, but a few things that not everyone may know:

* Give Rush credit, he does a very entertaining show, having figured out entertainment is more important than education. Facts can be dreary things, compared to just making up whatever lie supports your point.

* Con barking dogs are on more stations, and stations with stronger signals; much of that is due to the ideological choices of their owners. Corporations naturally prefer voices that support corporatism.

* Air America failed because of its business model was heavy on expenses, light on capitalization. You will recall that Fox lost money for years, but was backed by an ideologically very determined owner, who has been repaid by a favorable political climate: always more valuable than mere money.

* One of Air America's talkers is now in the U.S. Senate; in contrast, Fox is a rest home for failed politicians.

* Progressive talkers Ed Schultz and Thom Hartmann continue beat the conservative competition in many markets.

* Rachel Maddow relatively new program is growing quite well and for a simple reason: she understands how to be entertaining *and* factual.

Anonymous said...

We'd like more detail in those November scenarios. "Republicans win big" doesn't capture the crucial fine points.

Republicans can win big in the house or the senate or both, or they might make small gains in one house or both, or we might get the status quo in one chamber or both.

Right now the polls show a Republican majority in the house likely, a R majority in the senate highly UNlikely. That would mean the Rs take back the house but not the senate. Here's Nate Silver's statistical model:
http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/10/g-o-p-has-2-in-3-chance-of-taking-house-model-forecasts/

This would mean time-wasting birth certificate investigations in the house and no significant legislation. If the Rs control the house, you would likely get government gridlock but not a shutdown -- Gingrich's 1995 stunt backfired so badly, Rs are unlikely to want to repeat it.

That would imply no action on a new stimulus and no unemployment extensions as the economy gets worse. We appear to be falling back into low GDP growth and unemployment seems destined to increase somewhat as a result. But negative GDP growth seems unlikely. So a recap of the Japanese "lost decade" scenario.
http://robertreich.org/post/1088134069

How will the American public react to two years of a R do-nothing congress? Only time will tell. Hard to believe they'll be rewarded in 2012 though.

TwinBeam said...

Ironically, Forest was NOT an oath breaker, at least in any formal sense. Not a particularly "saving" grace, given his other crimes.

Jacob said...

T2 Quote "Maybe Jon Stewart takes a different tack because playing the straight liberal counterweight would be ratings poison?"

If this were true, it would mean the Progressives are equally partisan. Either the group is (mostly) less confrontational than the Conservatives -or- they just don't have the stomach to admit their true nature. Now, society contains a very small percent of unstable people that have little grounding in realty. Those who drink the weak cool-aid on the Progressive side are going to be lot less harmful to stability of society than those on the Conservative simply due to the nature of both sides propaganda.

One of the greatest 'Conservative' flaws is how much anger they direct at 'the enemy', their fellow Americans. I would admit that Democrats are uncharacteristically angry right now, but I place that firmly at the feet of Bush. (Not media heads)

Note: I used Big C and Big P to indicate partisans not moderates.

David Brin said...

"Maybe Jon Stewart takes a different tack because playing the straight liberal counterweight would be ratings poison?"

No, he does it because:

1) he has vast fun
2) it's made him rich
3) his audience is used to politely listening (with some snickers) as neocon guests both say their piece and get skewered.
4) Some people in America actually like to see smart people argue - simultaneously intelligently and with wit.

One can try to shrink-analyze Stewart's reasons... but it is simply a fact. He has on as many neocons and opponents as movie stars!

The cowards on the other side NEVER let themselves be challenged. This says a lot about the hosts... and it says a lot about their audiences.

Those watching Stewart may INCLUDE some ideologues. But they aren't uniform dittoheads and they are polite to guests they disagree with.

Face it. THis is an unambiguous and decisive difference. It is not just quantitative but qualitative, in a fundamental sense. It may not make one of the "sides" purely good and wise...

...but it absolutely proves the other side's spokesmen to be cowardly, dishonest and evil.

----

TwinBeam, had Forest taken oaths to the United States before the war?

In fact I need to soften my declaration. The cotton south, including So Carolina, committed pure treason by any standard, since they had been done no grievance.

Virginia & Tennessee did not secede till Lincoln called for volunteers for an army of forcible reunification. That was an act they consider unsupportable betrayal and at least it gave them SOMETHING to object to.

Inadequate. But not pure zero.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Dr. Brin, you wrote:
not a single delegation was ever sent to Lincoln, to ask his intentions, to negotiate calming statements or to hammer out a way for the South to maintain its pride or vital interests...

...because despite the deceptive rhetoric, Southerners were never actually personally opposed to Lincoln! Their delusions and fears had gone far beyond individuals by that point. They never spoke of what Lincoln actually would do, or actually had done, because they were truly afraid of the Radical Republicans that wanted to use the federal government to impose social engineering on the South. They didn't fear Lincoln; they feared who they saw as Lincoln's supporters, whispering sweet tyrannies in his ear.

Of course, by concentrating on their fears only instead of the realities and opportunities of the situation, they brought their own worst fears upon themselves. Everything from the secession, to the war, to the assassination of Lincoln by a lone actor incited by those very screeds you refer to... only made the problem worse, until the only power left in the government to impede the Radical tide was a former Vice President from Tennessee who survived an attempt to convert the Republic into a parliamentary system by a single vote.

Obama likes to compare himself to Lincoln, and he is right to. Like Lincoln, people hate him and fear him without making reference to anything he actually says or does... because they don't actually care about him, but rather his perceived supporters. It's not about Obama as a "socialist", it's about the "socialists" whispering in his ear. It doesn't matter if they are Saul Alinsky, or Jeremiah Wright, or Obama's own father -- there must be some MYSTERIOUS INFLUENCE that turns what all evidence shows to be a reasonable soul into the moster they are compelled to battle. And so, like Lincoln, they miss that he is in fact the guy most open to negotiation, most open to compromise, and most open to reconciliation. All the issues could be so easily resolved, and the stars are aligned for grand bargains to be struck.

But like the Confederates, they don't want bargains to be struck. They want blood... even at the cost of all the things they supposedly hold dear, including their own loyalty to the Republic.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Dr. Brin, you wrote:
not a single delegation was ever sent to Lincoln, to ask his intentions, to negotiate calming statements or to hammer out a way for the South to maintain its pride or vital interests...

...because despite the deceptive rhetoric, Southerners were never actually personally opposed to Lincoln! Their delusions and fears had gone far beyond individuals by that point. They never spoke of what Lincoln actually would do, or actually had done, because they were truly afraid of the Radical Republicans that wanted to use the federal government to impose social engineering on the South. They didn't fear Lincoln; they feared who they saw as Lincoln's supporters, whispering sweet tyrannies in his ear.

Of course, by concentrating on their fears only instead of the realities and opportunities of the situation, they brought their own worst fears upon themselves. Everything from the secession, to the war, to the assassination of Lincoln by a lone actor incited by those very screeds you refer to... only made the problem worse, until the only power left in the government to impede the Radical tide was a former Vice President from Tennessee who survived an attempt to convert the Republic into a parliamentary system by a single vote.

Obama likes to compare himself to Lincoln, and he is right to. Like Lincoln, people hate him and fear him without making reference to anything he actually says or does... because they don't actually care about him, but rather his perceived supporters. It's not about Obama as a "socialist", it's about the "socialists" whispering in his ear. It doesn't matter if they are Saul Alinsky, or Jeremiah Wright, or Obama's own father -- there must be some MYSTERIOUS INFLUENCE that turns what all evidence shows to be a reasonable soul into the moster they are compelled to battle. And so, like Lincoln, they miss that he is in fact the guy most open to negotiation, most open to compromise, and most open to reconciliation. All the issues could be so easily resolved, and the stars are aligned for grand bargains to be struck.

But like the Confederates, they don't want bargains to be struck. They want blood... even at the cost of all the things they supposedly hold dear, including their own loyalty to the Republic.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Sorry for the double post; Google spat an exception at me and I thought it didn't go through.

Robert said...

Borrowed from a friend (UrbanKOTC) from his Livejournal post:

...I have to compare this quintessentially-American phenomenon to herpes. My explanation follows.

The vector: Slavery. Allowing slavery to stay in the Union, even if the Founding Fathers meant to abolish it eventually, was the constitutional equivalent of unprotected sex.

The first flare-up was the worst--a well-heeled cabal of Southern Democrats representing slave states, who feared an inevitable removal of their "right" to own human beings and thus started the Civil War. Using the proper treatments--a naval blockade and generous applications of Ulysses S. Grant--we weathered the storm and the insanity subsided.

But it didn't go away.

The second flare-up came in the 1940s-60s, when a new crop of Southern Democrats ("Dixiecrats") attempted to protect their Jim Crow laws. Massive civil unrest followed, but again, treatment--this time in the form of the Civil Rights Act and other legislation--allowed us to hold off the worst, and it subsided again.

But it didn't go away.

Now, with the Tea Party apparently escaping the control of the Republican establishment and campaigning for causes so conservative that they threaten to take us back to just after the Dred Scott Decision, we are bearing witness to the third flare-up of racial intolerance, our national herpes. Like herpes, this insidious thought-virus hides in the country's very bones--the Constitution itself--and we will never purge it fully. Only time will tell how bad this current outbreak will grow, how (if) we will (can) treat it this go-round...and, eventually, if this particular strain of national herpes can prove lethal.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Briefly (gotta head to work) the WORST case scenario would be, hold onto your seats*, the GOP taking both houses of congress by small margains and believing that they have a mandate. Much nonsense would ensue, bad for the country, bad for the Republican Party, a god send to Dem fund raisers and Keith Olbermann, for neither of whom do I give a fig.


I agree with you except for the value judgement that this is "bad". Of course, I'm on the other side of the aisle from you. I'd rather the GOP demonstrate to the voters how bad it is to have them in power while we've at least still got the presidential veto as a check. From my perspective (though not from yours), this is a better outcome than the Dems continuing to take the heat for GOP obstructionism, and then running the board in 2012.


And to no real purpose, as it now takes a 60 vote Senate supermajority to enact major change.


Yes and no. 41 REPUBLICANS can effectively block legislation. 41 Democrats probably wouldn't hold the line so much. Bush was able to get a lot done with 50 Senators plus Dick Cheney (and Reconciliation, which only became evil when Democrats did it).

But...you're describing the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. With a Democratic president, it would take 67 GOP votes to overcome a veto. That's something, anyway.


We may be returning to an earlier era where eastern seaboard grandees shared the halls of congress with buckskin clad frontiersmen, the former whiffing snuff the latter not even bothering to aim for the congressional spitoons. A colorful era, with much progress and folly.


That might not be so much of a bad thing.


Most likely November outcome, and I am seldom far off in these prognogs, Republican House 'o Rep, Democrat Senate with 51 seats (plus the VP to break ties).


Statitically, you're probably very close. However, keep in mind that your predictions themselves are for outcomes where a very tiny pertubation changes the result quite drastically. An insignificant percentage of races going the Democrats' way changes the outcome from "lose" to "win", or from "win but hanging on by fingernails" to "comforatble win".

Ilithi Dragon said...

Radio tower maintenance personnel have serious balls.

Free-climbing (no safety-equipment) a 1,768-foot-tall radio tower, hauling a 30+ lb. equipment bag up completely-open ladders and peg rung ladders, and just the frame of the tower itself, as part of your daily commute to work? It's certainly one helluva view...

LarryHart said...

That's not Jacob Demwa climbing around up there on that "needle", is it?

:)

Robert said...

(I'm not sure why, but this post keeps being deleted after I posted it. As in it shows up for a minute and then vanishes from the web. So here's try #5... I'll try not using HTML in the coding this time...)

Here's a little something to worry about: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_dead_sea_scrolls

Identity Theft used in the Scholarly Fields. How long before some of the Global Warming Deniers or the Evolutionist Deniers try this tactic to destroy their opponents credibility? I suspect not long at all.

A while back, Intel did something I disliked big-time. They included a tracking chip on the CPUs they sold, so that if you logged onto the internet using an Intel-chip-run-computer, it would have a "fingerprint" to prove who you were. I (and a number of people) felt it was a violation of our privacy. Others hated the fact it destroyed Internet Anonymity. And while I almost always label who I am online, I do so by choice, not demand. (Hell, Blizzard's attempt to do that (forcing the use of real-life names) on the Starcraft 2 forums met such hatred that they backed down.)

Yet if there was some way to force the verification of someone's identity online... it would destroy a number of identity theft attempts, both via culture warriors and by actual thieves. I am starting to wonder if maybe I was wrong. Perhaps anonymity does not have a place on the Internet. Not anymore.

Rob H.

Jacob said...

Hi Robert,

Anonymity is only as important as it is because of a lack of transparency. Assumption, there are those who would strike you because of who you are. While these nameless foes are able to maintain their own anonymity, it is important that you have yours too. But by illuminating sources of power (government, corporations, etc) there will be less and less need for your own anonymity.

This is paralleled by social retribution. Assumption, someone might insult and mock who you are because you lack Anonymity. However if transparency is reflected on them, they are much less likely show their lesser nature. Those that do it anyway would be subject to social negativity directed at them.

Ultimately those who pry into others business will not be able to hide their own anonymity, thus making it a social hazard to be an ass. Its the transitions between privacy and transparency that will be the rough patches.

David Brin said...

Rob, there are SO many old used computers to buy cheap and use... and Trustworthy sites would not let those without ID chips in.

The real solution is commercial pseudonymity sites that would let you slip on a mask while retaining the credibility rating/reputation you have earned.

Rob Perkins said...

To my knowledge, the CPUID function hasn't been in Intel chips for years now. Pity; there are non-malignant scenarios where it's very useful.

Tony Fisk said...

Network cards have unique identifiers, though.

It was interesting listening to Stallman's take on software freedom and the internet, and his advice to all run your google queries through something like 'tor' so *they* don't know what the citizens are doing.

(his 'four freedoms' really only apply to software on a machine under your control)

Like most brilliant eccentrics, it can take a while to 'get' what he's on about.

Rob Perkins said...

A network card ID can be changed and masked so easily that it's useless as a unique machine identifier.

Tim H. said...

Anonymity can be comforting if your views are contrary, defenders of orthodoxy can be a bit hasty.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Anybody catch Stewart's announcement about his Rally to Restore Sanity last night?

I'm tentatively planning on attending, barring any conflicts that would throw off that date. Might launch an attack on the Colbert rally with my Free Hugs sign, to give them comfort and quell their fears.
} ; = 8 )

David Brin said...

Cheryl and I stared... and our jaws dropped... at the big rally announcements. We muttered and cursed over how FAR it will be, from California!

Me? I would attend Colbert's pro-anger rally in a blue civil war uniform.

It would be so cool if it draw 10X as many as Beck drew.

If you folks live back there... go! SHould be an epochal blast!

Rob Perkins said...

I'm as far away as you are, David. Hopefully CS will webcast the whole thing.

Those signs were comedy gold.

Ilithi Dragon said...

I'm only a couple hours from DC, give or take, so barring anything unexpected cropping up, I'm definitely going.


Hmm... Dr. Brin, the Union soldier uniform is an interesting idea... If I have the extra cash, I may just rent myself a costume.

Ian said...

Quick space-related question: has anyone tried that old 50's sf stand-by - magnetized boots - as a way to combat the muscle loss associated with zero G?

Stefan Jones said...

@Ian:

All magnetized boots would do is make your feet stick to a metallic surface.

Your muscles would still go unchallenged, and your body would still be in microgravity.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Well, you would have to exert more muscle-power to move around. It wouldn't be the same as walking in gravity, no, but it would be something, at least.

rewinn said...

Since you said "space" ...

... Saturday Morning Brekfast Cereal has an amusing take on Fermi's Paradox.

Ian said...

"Your muscles would still go unchallenged,"

Except your leg muscles every time you took a step.

Not saying it'd solve the problem but it might slow the deterioration and you probably test it on the ISS for a couple of thousand dollars.

John Kurman said...

Oh, I figured out the Fermi Paradox. The aliens figured out time travel, and banished all potential threats to alternate universes. We've got one all to ourselves. Wasn't that sporting of them?

Iowahawk. I read a number of essays and patiently waited for him to be funny. Clever, yes, but clever is necessary but not sufficient for funny. And way too much Iowa corn in that diet. I suppose...if my sense of humor wore a straw boater, sock garters and spats, the guy would be hilarious, but... to each his own.

David Brin said...

Ian, the space station is made of Aluminum, not steel. Sorry.

headkase said...

Don't know a good way to get this comment to you Mr. Brin but here it is:

http://www.maximumpc.com/article/reviews/looxcie_wearable_camcorder_review

This is where the reality sits of the eyeglass-cameras depicted in Earth. This one records five hours before cycling over the footage. Now all that is needed is real-time transmission, perhaps through the existing cell-phone network, of the video as it happens.

Transparent Society can't happen fast enough for me! ;)

Tacitus2 said...

Regards the Stewart/Colbert rallies, they sound like good fun, and right after Halloween, so you could attend and not spring for extra costume rental!

As humor it should be good stuff, and well within the capacious bounds of the First Amendment.

But I wonder about a couple of things.

Were there a conservative rally, say along the lines of the recent Beck-a-Palooza, which had appended a faux "progressive rally" how tolerant would folks be about comically depicted stereotypes. Is the "Welfare Queen" inherently more offensive than the spittle projecting, snake handling revival tent preacher? Its a moot point, as I see conservatives generally taking their politics a bit more seriously.

And, if you really want a Restore Sanity rally you run the risk of some of these serious folks showing up with signboards showing OMB budget projections, or a platoon of "bean counters" trying to symbolically tally up beans at the same rate as we tally up deficit spending.

Per previous comments, we can certainly expect the fair minded Mr. Stewart to feature such folks prominently...

Oh, and regards Iowahawk, he can be a bit hit and miss. I do like his current posting, it features one of his recurring characters T. Coddington Vorhees VI, the living embodiment of old line east coast conservatism. Poor T.Codd, having barely come to terms with "La Palina and her unfortunate brood of snowbillies" he is subjected to new indignities from previously safe Delaware. Alas.

Tacitus2

rewinn said...

"...how tolerant would folks be about comically depicted stereotypes..."

Exactly. When is the White Man going to get a fair chance?

When will White People be able to invent stories of Welfare Queens and mice with human brains?

When will White People be able to threaten a "2nd Amendment Option" if they lose an election?

When will White People be able to question the birthplace of a president?

When will White People be allowed to question the religious beliefs of candidates for public office?

When will White People get a chance to block legislation in the Senate with secret "holds"? A chance for fair representation in Congress and the Supreme Court and in the boardrooms of industry? A chance to shout "You Lie!" at the President in the middle of a speech and to shout down their Representatives at town meetings?

White People are so oppressed that the Oppressive Federal Government FORCED Beck's followers NOT to bring signs to his 8/28 rally!!! At previously rallies they had cheerfully born signs with all sorts of fictions, and the OPPRESSIVE LIBERAL MEDIA GOVERNMENT took photos of them just to cause embarassment by publicizing them ... how discriminatory and unfair was that!?!!?

Don't White People have the right to tells lies just as much as anyone else has the right to tell the truth?

As a White Man, I wonder: what is the real question here?

Tacitus2 said...

Rewinn

I do hope you realize that there are more WHITE welfare recipients than recipients of color. And that there quite likely are emphatic preachers of all shades of pigmentation.

We of a conservative stripe don't really object to reminding our progressive fellow citizens of the importance of sensitivity in such matters, but it should not be necessary.

But for helping me make my point, I thank you.

In the spirit of always trying to answer questions put to me..the real question asked was would the progressive end of the political spectrum have any sense of humor whatsoever if the Stewart/Colbert rallies were isomerically a conservative media figure who had a fake, zany faux liberal foil. I'm thinking...nah.

Tacitus2

Robert said...

Tacticus, if there were such a critter I would embrace him and call him my friend. I would call out to the world for everyone to watch him and to listen to the Fool's lesson as it was given to the masses. I would enjoy his every update and watch him religiously. Or her, for that matter.

But you know something odd? We don't have such a creature. Is it because Liberals aren't as easily caricatured and that making fun of them just doesn't work? Or is there something inherently nasty-minded about those conservatives who go into mass media? Those with a sense of humor avoid the mass media venues... leaving only the Limbaughs and the Dr. Lauras to fill the voice?

Or is it that the Powers That Be among the conservative media don't want us to laugh at Liberals... because if you can laugh at someone, then you don't fear them. There is a hell of a lot of fear in conservatives these days. There is a lot of dehumanizing of the Liberals and the Left. There is a tremendous loss of respect and politeness. Liberals exist to be shouted down and to be called liars. Not to be told "your opinion has merit but is flawed." To be shouted down.

I have to wonder... why?

Rob H.

David Brin said...

HeadKase... see my next posting.

You are right Tacitus, that Colbert's faux conservative comedic riff is more hilarious to one side of the spectrum than another... But this is only partly a matter of putative unfairness (or not).

The fact is that he does it WELL! Fantastically well. So well that his conservative guests (except O'Reilly) get sucked in and play along for fun! In fact, completely apart from politics, many believe that Colbert's is one of the most original, consistent and brilliant comedic personas since Groucho.

And there in lies the rub, were the same thing to be attempted from the other side, you know it would likely be plain old MEAN! Nasty and deeply unfunny. NOT because there isn't plenty to satire about the left! But because the neocons have purged themselves of good-natured feelings that make for good humored ribbing.

They CAN'T, you see. Stewart and Colbert admit their foes are human. They admit that many of them are sane and a few may even have strong points worth discussing.

Hence, a quarter of their GUESTS are conservatives!!! That is the proof. Those screeching cowards Beck & Limbaugh and Hannity NEVER bring on opponents to challenge them.

David Brin said...

onward to next post....

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

@Tacitus
"...I do hope you realize that there are more WHITE welfare recipients than recipients of color..."

WHOOOOSH! Right over your head!