Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why all the Zombies Means You'd Better Vote!


Howdy Halloween... and how about the symbolism as the dead seem ready to rise up, in the coming election?

And yes, I connect the two events, especially with one network pushing a zombie movie at us, just before we vote, in a blatant political ploy!

Seriously, zombies are political?

Well. Apparently -- zombie flicks flourish when Republicans are gaining ascendency. After all, such works works depict a garish, simplistic exaggeration of what they dread most -- an unruly uprising of the filthy, ignorant masses.

Vampire films, in contrast, represent fear of a predatious-controlling aristocracy and so, this genre surges in perfect tempo with times when democrats rise in influence.

S'truth! Moreover, given the sudden greenlighting of ever-more remakes of remakes of remakes of the same dull zombie scenario... the same cliches, over and over again... it looks like we may be in for a very long period of aristocratic rule.  Perhaps like the 4,000 year feudal reign that only ended with the American Revolution, and that may resume at any time.

io9 charts a spike in zombie movies coming out close to historical events involving war or social upheaval -- the Vietnam War, the Global recession, the Iraq War...

In fact though... what I've perceived goes deeper! It appears that there is a whole monster CLASS SYSTEM. 

"These gore-flecked flicks are really competing parables about class warfare," writes Peter Rowe in With Obama comes the return of the vampire, in the SanDiego Union Tribune.

After all, if vampires are old-style aristocrats (and by-the-way, those who wallow in vampire idolatry truly are bona fide traitors to our modern Enlightenment), and if zombies are the proletariat...

...then which monsters represent the MIDDLE CLASS?

Well, it used to be lycanthropes, of course. Werewolves. Poor schlumps in the suburbs who got bitten and who must now wrestle with the temptations of raw, animal power. The only movie monsters who were portrayed with families, mortgages to pay and lawns that need mowing. Their affliction used to be depicted with sympathy and angst and made for interesting stories! Their new powers and temptations, conflicting with bourgeois values, led to compelling and very sympathetic tragedy...

...except in the wonderfully up-beat and American Teen Wolf.

True%20BloodAlas, then, for the recent, utter betrayal of the whole idea behind wolfmen, in those awful new series we've seen lately -- you know, the ones that portray "lycans" as just another kind of arrogant asshole monster race preying on normal people, completely missing the point of what they are about!

Wanna see my own, highly original (and hilarious!) riffs on classic monsters? Portrayed in a raucous sci fi action comedy?  See my new serial "The Ancient Ones" in Baen's Universe. (Late note: This magazine is, unfortunately, now defunct.)

You'll fall off your chair! ;-)

For a more philosophical and academic look at this pop culture phenomenon, take a look at the collected essays in Zombies, Vampires, and Philosophy: New Life for the Undead, edited by Richard Greene and K. Silem Mohammad.


=== But Just a Little Politics Now, Please ===

There are so many lies.  So many tricks being used to sucker millions of Americans into voting for their own worst enemies, the venial thieves who have robbed us and brought America low.  At this late moment, it's hard to summarize even a few points, but I must try.

Ask these questions of your Fox-watching neighbor:

1) I have put out this challenge for years and no one on the right ever dares to respond! In all of human history, which enemy of freedom crushed and destroyed more markets or competition or opportunity or liberty?  Socialists or oligarchs?  In 99% of human decades, it was the latter. 

So why are you letting a propaganda machine that is financed by a bunch of secretive billionaires and middle-eastern oil princes feed you all your political ideas and stoke up your passionate hatred against your neighbors?

2) If the Bushites over-spent more freely than Obama, and lost more jobs by far, and if "ObamaCare" is actually based upon the Republicans' own 1995 health plan... exactly why are you so eager to put the GOP back  in charge?

3)  Do you actually...? 

Oh, but it is time to stop.  I have tried for 10 years to come up with silver bullets that might wake up decent conservatives from their fevered delusion -- that their movement has not been hijacked by monsters.  It seems hopeless.  They will not hear the sound of Barry Goldwater, spinning in his grave.

So let me put it this way. It is up to moderates... moderate and pragmatic, dedicated to a calm America, where negotiation is still possible... to make a difference in this election.

For you all to realize that it is time to be militantly moderate!  And, this decade (maybe not the next one!) that means punishing the party that is inarguably insane.  The delirious ones on the right.

Enough talking.  Find a tight race near you and tomorrow go down to the HQ of that race and volunteer to help get out the vote.

Fight both the zombies and the vampires.  Fight for us mere, middle class werewolves!

Fight for the republic.

136 comments:

Stefan Jones said...

That's good. I'm rather partial to wolves.

* * *

Oregon has mail-in voting, so it's all rather anticlimactic. No poll watching, or voter intimidation and bafflement.

I plan on spending election night watching movies. It will be bad enough having to listen to weeks of pundits blather about how a victory based on momentary disgust to be a clear mandate for setting back the clock a hundred years.

* * *

It might be fun to speculate who the new GOP hate-objects will be in the likely case that Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi are defeated or demoted. Their propaganda machine requires these demons, much as the Oceania Ministry of Truth required someone like Immanual Goldstein. Notice how many attack commercial link the local candidate to (for example) "Nancy Pelosi's job killing taxes!"

I suppose the preferred hate-object will be a woman or Muslim, or another homosexual congressperson. That way they can tap into the latent bigotry of the base.

Tim H. said...

The Democrats seem far to co-opted for a solution, but far less likely to kick in the afterburners on the way to the abyss than the GOP, I'll be taking the less noisome option.

looniewolf said...

There is another aspect of the wolf-man as middle-class. If you look at wolves, wolves are communal creatures. They live in family units. They rear their young and help teach them enough to live on their own... and send them off to form their own packs or families and expand into the wilderness. And they don't scavenge the vast majority of their food, as do coyotes (their smaller brethren) or bears (large lumbering loners who tend to be opportunistic when possible).

This is, of course, why elites hate wolves. Think of it: ranchers and the like hate wolves and do everything possible to kill them because of the potential loss of a few cows or sheep... because the rancher was not willing to spend more money to ensure the cows or sheep were safe. It's easier to kill the wolves and destroy the wilds. It's symbolic: the rich destroying those smaller than them by whatever means possible. (And how many large ranchers did everything possible to destroy the competition of smaller family farms and the like? Oligarchs vs. middle class, all over again.)

The rich oligarchs don't like the middle class. The middle class are the merchants and the like... who insist the rich pay for their desires instead of seizing what they want and walking off with it. The middle class dare to succeed. And when they get big enough... the most successful become bigger than the noble oligarchs... and "muddy" the waters of "nobility" and all that.

Or I might just be blathering on about nothing. ^^;;

Rob H.

RandyB said...

@David

I'm trying to imagine how your cartel scenario could work today. Since collusion is illegal, the secret would need to be closely held by a trusted few in human resources departments. That's a tough job for a couple of executives when they have thousands of people with different skill levels. Then this set-up needs to be duplicated by enough companies (large, medium, and small) to make it work. Most incredibly of all, they must all be willing to trust that no one else will ever tell -- even in a memoir or a plea bargain.

Adam Smith was writing of a time when workers didn't have many other places to go. Nowadays, enough people have cars that they can work miles from home. There are few closed markets where this could work.

I think we have a far different problem. With automation and globalization changing the world so rapidly, it's hard to see you make a case that wealth disparities are the result of that oligarchy.

It's not that the poor are being crushed by their bosses (and now more and more the middle class, too). It's that they're really being ignored. Reducing reliance on a section of the labor force is quite different from exploitation. It's a very serious problem that won't be solved with 1930s solutions.

The only big oligarchy I see is government. You might say Fannie Mae was linked to that oligarchy. That was run by political friends of both parties. Board member Jamie Gorelick made $25 million during her time there.

If I may continue from the previous post, you're mistaken about social security privatization. The current seniors wouldn't have been part of it. We could try to imagine younger workers being upset, but you'd be missing one really big thing: If the economy doesn't come back then their Social Security isn't going to survive either. Not in one piece, anyway.

RandyB said...

@Brendan (from the previous thread)

That's a good question about how restructuring Fannie Mae affects who joins the board.

I don't have the expertise to answer your question, but since it's in a conservatorship, I don't know how it can work at this point without some political control.

ZarPaulus said...

Hmm, many of the Republicans I've spoken to might think it's the other way around. They seem to be under the impression that Democrats are elitists who don't care how many commoners suffer under their ridiculous systems while Republicans are rational and know what works (though some admit the leadership is a bit corrupt).

The poor deluded fools.

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

"I'm trying to imagine how your cartel scenario could work today. Since collusion is illegl..."

Oh good lord! Randy, please listen as I explain this very slowly. Empowering the oligarchy to do otherwise-illegal things was the sole and central purpose of the Bush Administration.

It is the reason why the Bushites waged relentless war against the entire United States Civil Service, while the Fox machine made civil servants the very worst possible type of villains... followed closely by scientists, teachers, professors...

... indeed, stirring up populist rage against every "elite" in society that could possibly threaten or question the REAL elite.

You relentlessly ignore my challenge as to whether there is ANY disparity in wealth that you'd find worrisome. Even 0.01% owning 99.999%

You relentlessly ignore my core question, repeated ad nauseam. Roll some dice, and randomly select a dozen decades and countries in the past. Two dozen, or three or four. Tell us who was oppressing freedom, perverting markets, quashing social mobility and competition by bright sons of the poor. If even ONCE you randomly find a time when that threat was socialism, I will eat a bug!

There WERE such decades... e.g. 1945-1989... and I have the cred as someone who hates lefty dogmatists too! I am wary in all directions. Only fools cast their worry only one-way...

But you will not randomly roll up such a decade. It won't happen.

You can writhe and grab nostrums and excuses and Fox-isms and anecdotes. But your inability to recognize that conniving oligarchy is THE enemy that Adam Smith and the founders rebelled against... and endlessly returning enemy that is now making a big push... is sad and beneath an otherwise admirable mind.

"The only big oligarchy I see is government."

Yes, we can all see that fact. It is really pretty pathetic, Randy. But admitting it is the beginning.

Stefan Jones said...

One word:

lysine

David Brin said...

From the Kos site:

"I agree with Nancy Lebovitz, who observed that

"If (as Delaney says), fantasy is about the transition from a barter economy to a money economy, and science fiction is about the transition from a money economy to a credit economy, then vampire fiction is about the transition from hunting to the domestication of animals."

RandyB said...

Even I we were to accept that they don't care at all about the law, and they don't think they can get caught, a labor monopsony still can't work. As I've noted, the labor market is too diverse, and the workers are too mobile.

At what point did Steve Jobs and Bill Gates join the oligarchy? Or, is it that they're hiring without clamping down on wages? (I'll buy that the cartel can be effective if they maintain less than 100% control.) Is Honda part of the oligarchy if they make cars in the U.S.?

I think there are simpler answers than your oligarchy.

To get to your question: "You relentlessly ignore my challenge as to whether there is ANY disparity in wealth that you'd find worrisome. Even 0.01% owning 99.999%"

I didn't ignore it. You didn't find my answer. I'll try to be more clear.

I find it extremely worrisome now. I just don't agree on the cause of the disparity. As I said above: It's not that the poor are being crushed by their bosses [...]. It's that they're really being ignored.

The rich will own a greater and greater share because they're producing a greater and greater amount. (In a free society, we own what we produce.)

In ye olden days, they used the poor as labor, which gave the poor some return as wages. But we're reaching the point where their labor is no longer as necessary as it once was. Hence, it's no longer as valuable.

The poor will need to find something else to do. If politicians wanted to help, they should have started a long time ago.

looniewolf said...

Please define what you mean by "production" there? When I think of production, I think of such things as computers, phones, cars, houses, food. Tangible useful things. These days the rich seem to be interested in creating one thing: money.

What tangible use is there for money?

Or to put it another way: if tomorrow a massive huge solar flare were to strike the Earth, creating a massive EMP effect that knocks out the electricity, wipes computers, and caused some kickass auroras... what would be the important things out there? How much money someone created using these electronic systems that were now useless until the effects of the EMP were repaired? Or the houses, the food, the infrastructure allowing us to move around and survive?

Money is ultimately nothing. If your cry to fame is your ability to create more and more money (or accumulate more and more money), then you are producing nothing but illusions and fairytales. Oh wait, I should remove fairytales from that list because at least storytelling has a purpose. These financial instruments and the like that led to the currently ongoing recession (and trust me, the recession hasn't ended, no matter what the government is trying to claim - once we see a significant (one percent or more drop) in real unemployment rates) have no purpose but to tell lies that make people feel better about their "value," despite the fact that true value lies in family, friends, and one's input in one's society (both local and on a greater scale).

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

RandyB said...

To use the obvious, it's a means of exchange so that we don't have to carry wheat and fish around with us to trade.

But most wealth is not in the form of money. Bill Gates's wealth is in shares of Microsoft, much of which represent buildings, real physical things, and some non-tangibles. But an EMP might knock out the value of most of his tangible stuff, too.

David Brin said...

I have had it. I must choose whether to get sucked into endless bickering with the blind...

...or write my damned book.

I choose the book.

I will continue to post blogs, maybe once a week. But I must ask you guys down here in the commentary community to soldier on with your reasonable arguments without me!

In fact, if you DO see me showing up down here... more often than once a month or so... till the book is finished... PLEASE CHASE ME AWAY!

Good luck to us all and here's to a forward-looking, ambitious civilization.

Duncan Cairncross said...

To RandyB

The problem with the free market is that it is a positive feedback machine.
Basically them as have gets - the rich get richer - and it does not need superior thought or effort to do so

The poor get poorer - goods are MORE expensive in very poor areas

When I was a poor student I carried vehicle recovery insurance - very expensive!
Now I am better off I don't - if my car breaks I can afford to get it recovered

Any such system will move towards a more stable zone with the money clumping onto fewer and fewer individuals
Whereupon the burning brands and pitchforks will emerge!!

One of the tasks of a government is to control this clumping so that society can continue to operate

Chris Arndt said...

The reason I, as a Man of the Right, never respond to your political challenges is because I don't agree with your terms, the definitions of said terms, and some of your basic premises.

After that I find your conclusions logical enough, but going in the right direction from the wrong starting point would simply get the traveler to the wrong destination, possibly with no way to his intention.

The first point I can make is that "oligarchs" and "socialists" are both more leftward-leaning entities and an "oligarchy" is certainly not an element in any Right-politics philosophy or a vision of Conservative idealism.

In both socialism and oligarchies we have rejection of classical liberalism, fixed elections, power-brokers, and arguably we have a mixture of both right now. I'm a little but more idealistic than that but just barely.

We do suffer under oligopolies now and I see no solution to that problem. I see it as a sort of left-wing control of sorts though, because we have a higher legal and corporate authority that sets the rules as to what constitutes an automobile. In other words:

You can design and manufacture your own motorcar that is road-worthy but the Powers That Be will decide it is not street legal unless it can be insured as a make and model recognized by/in the system.

I don't think this can be reversed in my lifetime and I turn 29 next week, and plan to live to 96!

Second: political parties evolve and identifying Republicans of 2010 as "Bushites" can only be accurate in a scattershot way at best.

"Republicanism" is hard to pin down at the best of times.

However, my best summary of President Bush's fiscal policy was center-left at the best of times, even when he was center-right in his heart or head. If he was a fiscally conservative man in his brain, he wasn't in control of his law-making pen.

Or the best thing to say about President Bush 43 is that fiscally he was a bit left-leaning in the middle and end. Assuming that (and I have since 2005 or so, since he didn't veto a spending bill until his second term but lowered taxes, creating a deficit based on a stupid hybrid philosophy of policy that would never survive long-term implementation) the best estimate of political rightists is that President Bush 43 was militarily moderate.

So if a rightist wanted to strike against that, he'd vote..... Democrat? Not at all? 2008 was an odd split there.

2010 sees fiscal rightists strike at a leftist President that I believe isn't too far left of President Bush when it comes to effective policy. Can I see President Bush signing a stimulus bill when both houses are controlled by Democrats? YES.

I think it is a mistake to see the GOP in monolithic terms. I've seen the factions. I was watching.

You don't have to like the GOP of today, or their brand of fiscal conservatism. Trusting it is risky at best simply because we haven't been able to test it. For all I know it is empty promises.

I believe this with all my heart and soul: between Barack Obama's political philosophy and the current GOP stable, the side that is closest to George W. Bush's political dynamic is Barack Obama's.

Duncan Cairncross said...

"You can design and manufacture your own motorcar that is road-worthy but the Powers That Be will decide it is not street legal unless it can be insured as a make and model recognized by/in the system."

Cobblers!

There are many many thousands of home made cars in the USA

Tim H. said...

Reasons for worrying about income disparity, how about "What kind of world do you want to live in?" or "We need to protect stupidly short sighted rich people from destroying their long term wealth" or "Dehumanization is a very bad thing".

Rob Perkins said...

But we're reaching the point where their labor is no longer as necessary as it once was. Hence, it's no longer as valuable.

That's high nonsense. "The poor" comprise a couple billion people. Some of them are desperate enough to work for almost no money.

I'm told, for example, that seven chinese merchantmen own all the retailing in the Philippines. And sure, they employ a lot of Filipinos. But those aren't the poor.

Meanwhile, friends of my parents can't assemble enough capital to move from the toxic waste dump where they live, let alone see a doctor about the cancers and other health problems caused by toxicity they didn't create.

That's what "else to do" the "poor" are finding, Randy. Nothing more or less than dying early in a hardscrabble. Kind of makes a gripe about health care premiums more like a whine, doesn't it?

Jonathan said...

Totalitarian rule is fairly recent hence one would expect there to be less deaths associated with it in sum than with mostly aristocratic history.

If one had asked whether gunpowder was all that bad a few generations after it had been invented because in the sum of history, more had died via some form of non gunpowder weapon, it woudn't look very credible today?

Tyler August said...

@ Johnathan
"Totalitarian rule is fairly recent"
Julius Ceasar, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, and Lucius Tarquinius Superbus would probably disagree with you.
As would innumerable petty tyrants down through the centuries.

@Arndt
This is the problem with culture war, isn't it? You take what you like and label it "right wing" ; I'll take what I like and say it's on the left. And even though the root of our ideologies might seem incomprehensibly wrong to the other, there's a vast swath of territory on which we'd agree, if we ever got past the labels.
For example:
Obama is too much like Bush. Yes! It's been obvious for some time now that there is "the corporate party" and "the other corporate party" in America. It's clear who both President's policies benifited--uncompetitive parasites.
On the left, it was thought that the people could buy Obama with micropayments-- no luck. On the right, the Tea Party thinks it can take over the GOP, and, well, excuse me for being skeptical.

But the Ogliarchy of which Dr. Brin speaks does not like markets, you're right. It doesn not like free competition, because that might threaten its position! Yes, it engages in regulatory capture and will game the system as much as possible for it's own benefit. The "bad guys" are not, exactly, left or right wing as a leftist or a right-winger would describe them. They don't like markets and they don't like the redistribution of wealth. What they do like is anything that keeps them on top, like every aristocrat in all of human history.

Left-wingers would love to see small, local shops building vehicles specialized to local needs in every state, or every county! That's not dissimilar to your vision, is it?
We love entrepreneurs, in many ways: we support small businessmen every time we bike to local farmer's markets or pick up our CSA allotments.

Most leftists want to set all people equal on a level playing-field. Really! That's what right-wingers want, too, I know. Isn't it crazy?
Communists (real Communists, adherents of Marx, not later Soviet perversions) and Libertarians both want the State to wither away-- the endgame is the same, but the methods are
different.
Most people in North America want very similiar things--and yet they make us hate each other.
Who? Why, the people on top. The ones who have the most to lose in the Communist/Libertarian endgame, where every man is free. The people on top are the ones Dr. Brin fears wish to (naturally!) produce a new aristocracy.
That's why they fund the culture war; they want us to waste our political energy battling eachother over meaningless, divisive lables, rather than working together to figure out what actually works to produce the future we all want.

Tacitus2 said...

David

Get to writing that book.

You are correct, your energies are needed there more than here.
You are repeating yourself too much, which is not a comment on the quality of your ideas, just on the freshness of them. And so many of the discussions here are people talking past each other.

I also think it is a fallacy to assume that past experiences are infallible guides to the future. The "Republican" health plan of the early 90s, for instance, is not a sensible template for the much different economic and demographic realities of 2010.

To give another example, how many decades have we actually had "socialism" in its modern form? Post 1847? Post 1919? I don't think picking decades randomly and making comparisons (darn wars, depressions, influenza pandemics etc get in the way), helps much.

The tendency of progressives to look backward, to some golden age of the 1960s or 1930s, seems to me a weakness. Kind of regressive in a way.

Now get out and vote for the party and/or individuals you think will be up to the challenges of the 2010s! And no scolding from me on which bunch you figger that to be.

Tacitus2

LarryHart said...

RandyB:

The rich will own a greater and greater share because they're producing a greater and greater amount. (In a free society, we own what we produce.)


If the premise were true, I'd agree with the conclusion, but the presmise is NOT true. Today's uber-rich aren't getting that way by producing more, but by skimming more off the top. Insurance companies make money by DENYING service. Manufacturers off-shore their workforce to make money by paying lower wages and polluting more. And thanks to the USSC, they can now essentially bribe legislators with campaign contributions in excahge for those legislators gaming the tax and regulatory systems in their favor.

They're "making" more profits, sure, but it's not because of production. The example Dr Brin posted last post--mortgage companies doing marathon sessions to FAKE applications is a pretty blatant example of this.


In ye olden days, they used the poor as labor, which gave the poor some return as wages. But we're reaching the point where their labor is no longer as necessary as it once was. Hence, it's no longer as valuable.

The poor will need to find something else to do. If politicians wanted to help, they should have started a long time ago.


Here, I actually agree with you to a point. I've been ranting for years now (and feeling like I'm screaming in the wilderness as much as our host does about his conspiracy theory) that as human labor becomes less and less relevant to a functioning economy, there has to be some other way for citizens to earn their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. One cannot (or at least SHOULD not) simultaneously hold the beliefs that production can be accomplished without human labor AND that human labor is the only method for people to earn an income.

Ilithi Dragon said...

So I did make it to the rally on Saturday; no pictures of my own unfortunately, because my friend, who was also the cameraman of our weekend duo, had some stuff come up at the last minute and couldn't make it, but there were plenty of pictures taken by everyone else.

First impression: There were a LOT of people. The metro was packed, train after train of people crammed in tighter than sardines (fortunately nobody had gas problems in any of the cars I rode in), and the mall was packed shoulder-to-shoulder at least half-way back to the Washington Monument. Comedy Central was only expecting about 60,000 people, and had jumbotrons and P/A systems set up for a crowd of that size; they got ~215,000 - 250,000 (estimated by aerial photos of the crowd, though Colbert estimated at least 6 billion people).

It was definitely a most American of rallies. Many signs and costumes focused on the core issue of the rally: Restoring sanity and/or fear, but there were many different political issues, major and minor, championed by many different people. And then there were the costumes and signs just for fun ("This is a sign." "I hate crowds" "I shaved my balls for this?!?" and many witty signs that were very clever, but that I can't recall off the top of my head now).

I did not actually see or hear much of Stewart and Colbert's act and speech; I was too far back to get a good view of a jumbotron or to hear most of what was said, and I didn't have the chance to find a good video recap on Sunday, but the spirit of the event was very strong, even in the back wings where people weren't really sure what was going on. I wandered the crowd, jumped rope with a group of Muslims who were giving stickers to anyone who would jump rope with them. I got 13 jumps in once I got going (I had heavy boots on, so I was not equipped for it).

I didn't have any signs of my own, just my two "I am a member of a civilization" buttons, and I lost the one (poorly-made pin clasp), because I was running late and forgot to grab my FREE HUGS sign while rushing out the door.

It was a long day, but a lot of fun, and a huge success. My faith in the American people has been very much restored.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Stupid character limits...

Regarding oligarchy and conservatism... Conservatism has always favored big business/big private wealth and aristocratic oligarchy, because the end result of libertarian conservatism taken to its unchecked extreme is aristocratic oligarchy with a handful of elites controlling all the material wealth and power, after cheating and gaming the system to collect it all for themselves.

Socialism does not destroy freedom or oppress people unless taken to a foaming-at-the-mouth extreme. When practiced sanely, socialism focuses on leveling the playing field and sharing resources/ownership. Communism, which is not equal to socialism, does tend to intrude and interfere much more with people's rights, even in more moderate forms, and extends much further beyond the economic sector than socialism. Communism also focuses more on state-ownership, rather than community- or worker-ownership. Communism falls into totalitarianism much more easily than socialism.

Totalitarianism is hardly the province of the left or communism/socialism, however. See the medieval societies dominated by aggressive church officials. See the societies idolized by various religious extremists throughout history (and not-so-extremists outside of the last couple centuries or so). See the ultra-religious societies implemented in the more backwards regions of the Middle East (and sometimes the not-so-backwards). See the feudalistic society of Imperial Japan, and Imperial China, with total subservience to the Emperor and the nobility (especially in Japan). These are all examples of totalitarianism (though with less tech to enforce it), and they are hardly new or stem from communism.

The trick is to strike a balance, a sane, Rational, science-based balance centered around what works best and what gives the most equal opportunity to everyone. Going off in one direction or the other as The One True Way while ignoring or rejecting everything else will only lead to horrible failure.


Gunpowder weapons were a largely minor threat relative to other weapons for hundreds of years, because for so long they were so bulky, complicated, inefficient, ineffective, impractical and difficult to make. Even into the Revolutionary War, it was blades (swords, knives, bayonettes) that did most of the killing. It was only later that guns became significant in their own right as their advantages/superiority edged out bladed and blunt melee weapons. And lo, even today, a knife or a club is still a potent and deadly weapon, and they still cause many deaths. Guns are the greater threat now, but they're also handled with much more care, respect and fear, and melee weapons will never cease to be a potential source of lethality. The same can probably be said of totalitarian communism and aristocratic oligarchy.

Lastly, Doc, I've been itching for an excuse to get my steel-toed shin-kicking boots out of the closet. Fear not, should you make more than your monthly allotted appearances, we shall give your shins a hardy what-for.
} : = 8 D

looniewolf said...

I just wish Dr. Brin had left on a slightly more uplifting note: say, talking about science or on some fun socioeconomic research or the like. ^^;; Political discussions get old after a bit. But hopefully we'll see the political aspects lessen once the elections end and Republicans sweep both House and Senate and begin impeachment proceedings on Obama for daring to be a Democrat in the White House. ;)

Sadly, what we need is a Roosevelt. But that breed of politician is dead and I doubt we'll ever see their ilk ever again.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2 said:

Get to writing that book.


Well, yeah, I think we'd all love to see new Brin on the fiction shelves. I can only re-read "The Postman", the Uplift trilogies, and "Thor Meets Captain America" so many times.

Me, I'm not real good at making people do things they refuse to do themselves (like kicking Dr Brin off his own blog). Hey, I wouldn't argue against my 95-year-old grandmother's right to smoke, so I'm not going to be mean to Dr Brin if he posts something interesting here.

But I DO hope he'll finish the book.


You are correct, your energies are needed there more than here.
You are repeating yourself too much, which is not a comment on the quality of your ideas, just on the freshness of them. And so many of the discussions here are people talking past each other.


I think it naturally builds to that as the election crescendo approaches. I know that I personally will not be quite so politically-oriented after Nov 2. But for now, that's what's on my mind.


The tendency of progressives to look backward, to some golden age of the 1960s or 1930s, seems to me a weakness. Kind of regressive in a way.


So let's go back to the 1880s or the 1920s or the 1950s when people didn't do that! :)


Now get out and vote for the party and/or individuals you think will be up to the challenges of the 2010s! And no scolding from me on which bunch you figger that to be.


Well, I hope the guy you voted for as Wisconsin senator wins.

gmknobl said...

How do I keep my courage up? Frankly, I don't any more. I am discouraged. I have told people for the last ten years what's happening to us. I've pointed out the danger we have been in by government being taken over by radicals who want nothing more, I have come to believe, but to rape the countries wealth for them and their like-minded friends and don't care a whit about anyone or anything else. Wealth and power is theirs by Divine Right, they believe.

So, I'm going out to vote for a write in candidate I'll put in the touch screen computer (that is trivially hacked without a paper trail) and it won't matter. I've given up on an otherwise pragmatic House Representative who has voted the last three times I cared against everything I want including better health care, preventing the change in Medicare and on other more local issues. He has voted for the interests of corporations and not for common citizenry. So, my only form of rebellion is to remove my support from his in the form of my vote. But if his opponent gets in it will be worse as that person is a card carrying member of the hate-anyone-who-isn't-rich,-conservative-and-Christian crowd. So, do I vote for someone who supports corporations over individuals or someone who supports corporations against individuals and want to vilify my existence as a Liberal Christian?

I'm voting for someone I know personally and has my same interests. It will be a futile vote and the only one she gets. But there is no one else.

It's not like I haven't written Boucher telling what I think in emails, phone messages and any other method we have available now. I've constantly communicated during every crucial vote to let him know what me, his constituent, wants. I don't think he listens any more.

On a state level, Virginia went looney tunes again with McDonnell and his insipid attacks on reason but for cronyism. I weathered the last few ridiculous administrations in this state and even point out to co-workers that we've benefited during Democratic governorships but been hurt during Republican ones with the exception of Wilder (this in general terms) who seemed to have a shared Republican hatred of higher education. But it has not worked. Mark Warner was a great governor and Kaine tried to do likewise but was held hostage by the house and senate "conservative," a strategy we are seeing repeated against Obama with equal success.

gmknobl said...

How do I keep my courage up? Frankly, I don't any more. I am discouraged. I have told people for the last ten years what's happening to us. I've pointed out the danger we have been in by government being taken over by radicals who want nothing more, I have come to believe, but to rape the countries wealth for them and their like-minded friends and don't care a whit about anyone or anything else. Wealth and power is theirs by Divine Right, they believe.

So, I'm going out to vote for a write in candidate I'll put in the touch screen computer (that is trivially hacked without a paper trail) and it won't matter. I've given up on an otherwise pragmatic House Representative who has voted the last three times I cared against everything I want including better health care, preventing the change in Medicare and on other more local issues. He has voted for the interests of corporations and not for common citizenry. So, my only form of rebellion is to remove my support from his in the form of my vote. But if his opponent gets in it will be worse as that person is a card carrying member of the hate-anyone-who-isn't-rich,-conservative-and-Christian crowd. So, do I vote for someone who supports corporations over individuals or someone who supports corporations against individuals and want to vilify my existence as a Liberal Christian?

I'm voting for someone I know personally and has my same interests. It will be a futile vote and the only one she gets. But there is no one else.

It's not like I haven't written Boucher telling what I think in emails, phone messages and any other method we have available now. I've constantly communicated during every crucial vote to let him know what me, his constituent, wants. I don't think he listens any more.

On a state level, Virginia went looney tunes again with McDonnell and his insipid attacks on reason but for cronyism. I weathered the last few ridiculous administrations in this state and even point out to co-workers that we've benefited during Democratic governorships but been hurt during Republican ones with the exception of Wilder (this in general terms) who seemed to have a shared Republican hatred of higher education. But it has not worked. Mark Warner was a great governor and Kaine tried to do likewise but was held hostage by the house and senate "conservative," a strategy we are seeing repeated against Obama with equal success.

rewinn said...

There is always hope.

1. Victory is most easily attained by breaking the will of their enemies; your opponents want to deny you hope, and their every effort is bent in that direction. Don't help them.

2. Polls based on landlines may be wrong; a solid get-out-the-vote effort could overturn the predicted return of the Know-Nothings to power in Congress and the subsequent two years of holding hearings on Obama's birth certificate, rather than on things that matter, such as global warming and jobs.

(If the Know-Nothings return to power, the people who will suffer the most are their own followers and I find rough justice in that; not hope per se but perhaps a little schadenfraude.)

3. Demographics. The GOP has come down squarely in favor of racist assaults on Hispanics, and this coupled with their history animus against blacks, Asians and Native Americans, are heading them toward minority status. Young people don't like GOP attacks on gays either. This effect has been masked by the domination of money in this election. Candidates such as Angle can outright refuse to answer any questions on matters of substance ... such as the foreign policy matters that are the special domain of the Senate ... because her allies run unlimited attack ads against her opponent, calculating that the loss of support among minorities will be offset by increased turnout among their fearful base. In the short run, they may be right but we whites will not be the majority forever.

4. Other nations will carry on our American ideals, as the United States dwindles in our domination of the world stage. In part this is an effect of the natural catching-up of everyone else, but it is also due to the squandering of the laborously accumulated wealth of the commons, built between the 1930s to 1980, by predators who accurately calculated that they could tap into that wealth, bit by bit. Perhaps when the predators have left our great nation a withered husk, they will move on to fatter targets and we can regain our freedom.

5. The human species is gaining in intelligence. I won't say individuals are, but as organizations we are vastly more able to share information and make informed decisions than ever before. This effect is masked as the aristocracy's privatized propaganda efforts are locally and temporarily successful but the species is learning.
Take, for example, the ACORN vs. Sherrod scandals. In both cases, faked video attempted to destroy good public servants to the advantage of the aristocracy. The first effort worked; the second failed (just barely) as the species, noting the earlier lie, investigated the new lie and squashed it before it did much harm. Now effectively everyone flags Breitbart's material as "unreliable"; he's still employable because "unreliable" is a positive qualification in many quarters, but only a fool would actually accept his word on any subject.

6. The human species is also gaining in emotional intelligence. The most important part of the Rally for Sanity and/or Fear is that the idea of sanity turned out to be very popular. Being afraid and unwilling to listen is not as popular as it once was.

There may be no way to persuade Beckists, who respond to poverty by saying "the poor should just find something to do", that this is an unrealistic attitude, fitting to a barbarian perhaps but unworthy of a civilization. The Know-Nothings can hurt our great nation badly, and will certainly try, just as they did in 1861 and 1929. But in the long run, they will fail, and the sooner if we respond to hostility not with more hostility, to fear with more fear; to violence with more violence; fearful angry violent people WANT a fearful angry violent response to confirm their POV.

So chin up! feel confidence, have a laugh.

There is hope.

LarryHart said...

rewinn:

(If the Know-Nothings return to power, the people who will suffer the most are their own followers and I find rough justice in that; not hope per se but perhaps a little schadenfraude.)


That's the sort of miniscule pleasure I aspire to now.

Keeps me from going postal, but I do miss the time (less than a decade ago) when I actually had more grandiose hopes for the future. I'll take what I can get, though.

Tony Fisk said...

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Glad you enjoyed the rally, Ilithi. As I noted earlier, CNN claims the turnout was far in excess of Beck's. Photos suggest about the same.

It concerns me that, having identified werewolves with the middle class, David then talks of producing 'silver bullets'. A few 'wooden stakes' might have been a more appropriate metaphor?

(Or maybe, as Stewart and Colby demonstrated, the whole idea should be taken with 'a pinch of salt'? That'll fix the zombies, anyway!)

Now, as to book discipline, is it possible to set your blog to reject your own comments?

Welcome to the dungeon dimensions...

John Kurman said...

I'm doing okay. I got a desk drawer full of candy right now. I think it interesting to hear what other nations news agencies have to say about our shenanigans. Specifically, the tea party. Pakistan sees them as anti-Islam thugs. China is convinced they want war. Germany thinks it is all about the fear of American decline. France: conspiracy theorists, reactionaries, anti-elitists, lowest common denominator types. Spain, Latin & South America: An ultra-radical right-wing movement in the mold of authoritarians of another era.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/10/26/how_the_world_sees_the_tea_party

My take: The GOP has used them well. "Thanks for the votes, guys, now F off". (Sound of country club gates being slammed shut).

The youngsters come back in force in 2012. Obama re-elected, GOP kicked to the curb once again. Get used to the seesaw politics. It happens during tough times.

Stefan Jones said...

From yesterday's Esquire:

Greetings from Idiot America

Tim H. said...

Roger Ebert has something interesting...
http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/politics/i-remember.html

Dave Rickey said...

The middle-class representatives in the supernatural? Magic users. Witches, sorcerers, wizards, etc., people whose power comes not from what they were born into, but what they learned.

Ramidel said...

You know, there's a simpler reason for zombies being popular with ascendant Republicans, one you should have come up with immediately:

Zombie apocalypses are apocalyptic. You're always posting about apocalyptic Left-Behind Christians, and here's a perfect chance to shoot at the legions of Hell who are destroying the world. I think Occam's razor suggests that zombie hordes cater more to the psycho-Christian and survivalist types than the corporate elite.

Otherwise, if zombies identified with the elite snobs, you'd see less of them, since the Right's coalition is being tested even as they're on a roll with bashing the Left. Here's a scary thought for you, though: the rich corporate elite may end up as the moderate candidates, like they are in my state (Alaska senatorial race; I'm voting for our nepotistically-appointed current Senator rather than the Tea Party's reactionary nutcase). Wrap your head around that one.

Ginjg said...

I know you've just declared you're "outta here" for comments, but I'd love to have the reference link on the Zombie/vampire political climate correlation stats?

looniewolf said...

Part of this article seems to be behind a subscription window, but part of NASA has a plan to on the cheap send a humanoid robot to the Moon as an effort to help spur the imagination of American engineering students and the like. While Dr. Brin may keep stating the Moon is a dead end... I have to admit, this is the sort of project that sounds rather interesting, and may inspire people even if it's not MEN going back to the Moon! ^^

Rob H., dragging people away from politics for one moment of sanity

Patricia Mathews said...

Thank you, culture warriors, for driving Dr. Brin off his own blog. Congratulations. May such things come to you as you deserve.

Tacitus2 said...

Patricia..

David is made of sterner stuff. But he deserves a break now and then. He is not a public utility that answers to the demands of his clientele.
Those of us who in some areas disagree with him claim similar privilenge from time to time.

You will see more profound analysis today, but the key to understanding midterm 2010 is Massachusets.

If Barney Frank is defeated, or even comes within a few points of it, you can cue Rod Sterling because we are entering a political Twilght Zone where anything can happen.

In fact, when the verdict on Obama is written, at least regards what I expect will be the first of two terms, Mass. will be the point of change.

Not when Scott Brown won the Kennedy Seat.

But when people in positions of power actually started speaking of it as The Kennedy Seat....

Its a great country. Elections are majestic even when the results are not what you would prefer. Change is always happening.

Tacitus2

Ilithi Dragon said...

Regarding the accuracy of landline polls...

I have long suspected that they have a distinct conservative/GOP bias for several years now. The younger generations, the more tech-savvy individuals, tend to lean liberal for a variety of reasons (age, broader/more diverse social networks, look-forward attitude, etc.), and they have, more and more, been shifting away from landline use. How many college students today, for example, only have a cellphone? How many adults only have a cellphone? My twin sister hasn't had a landline since she moved out for college (her fiance might have a landline in his house, but I don't remember seeing any landline phones while visiting). I haven't had a landline since I moved out, either (in fact, I don't even have an active cellphone right now; I do all my calling through Skype). Both of them lean liberal, at least.

Another friend I have, who just recently moved into a house with his wife at the beginning of the year, never bothered to get a landline because they both have their cellphones. He and his wife (a Thai immigrant) are both very liberal.

Unless the polling accounts for that (and it might, I don't know how they adjust their polling stats), I think the actual opinions of voters in the U.S. is much more strongly aligned with the Democrat side than the polls indicate.

Considering that, and the sheer popularity of the Sanity/Fear rally, I'm actually entertaining a small hope that the Dems might possibly pull off a major victory tonight.



Now, regardless of who you're rooting for, get out there and VOTE!!!

Blight said...

If the future doesn't need us any more - for labor that is, what will be the repercussions? In the next 6 months, one million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits each month - and this money was flowing right back into the economy. Also, the stimulus projects will be winding down. Do you hear the beginning of a big sucking sound? Can America's elite continue its policy of outsourcing, generous CEO compensation and big tax breaks for itself before the wheels come off America's economy. Well, if the wheels begin coming off, perhaps with economic collapse and hyperinflation, the elite may have ample supplies of Glenn Beck's gold to pay personal security mercenaries. So some employment opportunities will be opening. Think the aftermath of Katrina across the United States - is it possible? Are we looking at a potential chaotic event like the fall of the Soviet Union?

D. Hall said...

Democrat leadership not Oligarchs? I humbly suggest you are indulging in simplistic, dichotomous thinking. Of course it's not as simple as Democrats are socialists and Republicans are Oligarchs. The political class is full of "oligarchs" on both sides of the isle. I think that Angelo Codevilla better classifies the current American political state as "ruling class" vs. "country class" in his recent essay. Oligarchy definitely has a long history that spans across Democrat and Republican leadership. The Founders tried to limit this political development through the Constitutional system of checks and balances along with trying to limit the centralized power of Federal Government.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Blight,

I think the only way we'll get something that extreme will be if we get something like a major asteroid strike, or a nuclear war. The structure of the country and the economy is not THAT fragile (however fun it may be to cry "Doom! Doom!! DOOOOOOOOM!!!").


Could things get bad? Yes, they could get very bad, Great Depression bad; we are certainly not out of those woods yet. But the fundamental collapse and fracturing of the U.S. as a government and nation? We'll need more than just the Great Depression 2.0 for that.

Personally, unless the Dems pull off a major victory this election that gives them enough votes to break the filibuster in the Senate and the Dems and the President can push through some major economic reforms and stimulus packages, I think we're going to be in for several years of a long, slow, painful recovery. A 'lost decade' much like Japan went through.

LarryHart said...

Patricia Mathews said:

Thank you, culture warriors, for driving Dr. Brin off his own blog.


Could the S****s have taken him out?

LarryHart said...

Illithi Dragon said:

Could things get bad? Yes, they could get very bad, Great Depression bad; we are certainly not out of those woods yet. But the fundamental collapse and fracturing of the U.S. as a government and nation? We'll need more than just the Great Depression 2.0 for that.


You've read "The Postman", right?

The country had successfully weathered a war and was on its way to recovery until the camel's back was broken by the Holnist straw. I'm not quite at the point of living in constant fear of it actually happening, but I think that's HOW it will happen when it does.

And Ayn Randists aren't all that far off from Holnists.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2 said:

If Barney Frank is defeated, or even comes within a few points of it, you can cue Rod Sterling because we are entering a political Twilght Zone where anything can happen.


I'd feel better about "anything happening" if I could trust in the vote being truly reflected rather than manufactured by Diebold machines.

I have a hard enough time believing Scott Brown won, although I'm not going to claim a certainty that that was fraud. I'm having a very hard time believing Feingold is losing YOUR state. However, can ANYone contend with a straight face that Alvin Green was the legitimate winner of the South Carolina Democratic primary?

No, I'm not giving up on voting, but I'm starting to give up on the whole "accept the will of the voters" part when there's increasing evidence that the totals are manufactured from whole cloth.

LarryHart said...

And just to be clear...I voted this morning.

And I even voted for some local Republicans.

But at the governor or national level...never again. Not if they were the last party on earth.

LarryHart said...

Illithi:

Personally, unless the Dems pull off a major victory this election that gives them enough votes to break the filibuster in the Senate...


If the REPUBLICANS take the Senate, does anyone want to bet money on whether THEY eliminate the filibuster in their first 100 minutes?

Blight said...

Logically crying, "Doom, Doom, DOOOOM!," might be more questionable had we not nearly driven off an economic cliff 20 months ago - when Henry Paulson started crying, "Doom, Doom, DOOOM!" if we didn't feed the banks mountains of money. Furthermore, none of America's underlying malaise is being addressed - or will be addressed in the foreseeable future.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Ilithi, I think you're right regarding landlines, and the type of people who still have them. The only reason we have a landline is because DH runs some of his business and the server farm out of our spare room. Landlines also allow us to do things like faxes and other hardwired conveniences, and don't rely on the local electric company, being separately powered. As infrastructure eventually gets put in place that will eliminate the need for dedicated phone lines, fewer and fewer houses will require them. I wonder how long it's going to be before we see the first house built without a phone connection, just Internet capability?

TheMadLibrarian

Podusner: the generation that has never grown up without an Apple product in their pocket

Tacitus2 said...

The land line issue is a fair question as regards the veracity of modern polls. But not the only one. Ignoring the straight "push polls" that we all despise, you could have a sub group of polls designed to yield a specific outrageous result. For instance, if there were a series of questions along the lines of "did you know that...(Bush partied with Saudis, Saudis own 10% of Fox) you would expect a higher percentage of people thinking Bushco was a Saudi puppet. You are in effect painting a background.
And the other side of the coin is that people often lie to pollsters. They might be embarressed about their true views, or just feel like punkin' the suits!
Tacitus2

rewinn said...

Polls - while it concerns me that adverse polling based on poor methodology may discourage turnout, a greater issue is the undue influence given polling in political discourse, in preference to matters such as a candidate's actual expertise and governing philosophy.

Image applying our system in other areas:

"In the race to determine who shall pilot the Space Shuttle Discovery, Ozzy Ozbourne is several points ahead of Kenny G among younger voters, but shows little support among retirees. In other news, having failed to amass 5% support in the polls, candidates John Glenn and John McCain are barred from televised debates."

Tony Fisk said...

A little light entertainment for fellow dungeon denizens:

Edmund Burke puts it way too strongly, of course, but:
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

I must confess the Rod Serling theme swells a bit with this sentence from the BBC report:

The last polls will close in Alaska at 0000 EDT.

It meshes with Vincent Price's thriller contribution:
"Darkness falls across the land, the witching hour is close at hand."

daveawayfromhome said...

Re: polling skew.
It has occurred to me to wonder if the polls, if skewed towards conservatives, are not then used by the folks who are hijacking the voting machines? After all, take a skewed poll, add a couple of points to that, and you've tipped the scales just enough to more or less maintain power without too much suspicion.

Or that could just be my paranoia speaking.

If this should be the method used, then one wonders what the actual margin might have been in 2008.

TheMadLibrarian said...

The pollsters have finally left my phone blessedly silent. Most of the phone polls I've received this time have been for candidates with an (R) after their name, and largely just this side of slanderous towards the opposition. Caller ID is very much my friend.

TheMadLibrarian

Tacsh: slimy polling tactics

looniewolf said...

So. Do I still have the right to gripe about the politicians who got elected if I was unable to vote because I got lost looking for the polling place? ^^;;

(In my defense, Franklin and Frederick are fairly close for street names, and I get out of work around 6 so after the commute home I didn't have a lot of time to drive around looking... *sigh* Ah well. I live in Massachusetts. My one vote wouldn't have mattered. Though I'd love to have tried to vote in some Republicans for the local elections, seeing that the overwhelming Democratic State House has screwed things up worse than the Republican Party has on the national level... or at least, come close to it) (yes, I support local Republicans and federal Democrats. Don't look at me that way...)

Rob H.

Ian said...

Another nonpolitical story to divert from the impending bloodbath.

After micro-finance, micro-insurance

Kenyan farmers can now purchase weather insurance. The now-ubiquitous mobile phone system is the key to the system.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/11/pay-as-you-plant-insurance-africa-farmers-recover-climate-crop-loss.php

Rob said...

Tony, according to Wikiquotes, Burke probably never said it. Comes from a translation from Russian of a film adaptation of Tolstoy's War and Peace

Tony Fisk said...

...the ironic thing being that I *sourced* Burke from wikiquotes!!
(I obviously didn't read the details)

At least the witching hour has been diverted: O'Donnell can't weigh as much as a duck or she would have hexed it!

Which just goes to show that we are not living in end times, that's why they're hard!

For thought next time you're enduring the incomprehensible 'rants' of Beck, Olbermann, Stewart or Limbaugh (or Clarke and Bolt):
Different species of dolphins communicate

And, should you be contemplating 'Up' as being the 'new West', restrictive clothing makes for better bones in zero-G

looniewolf said...

CNN is predicting Republican rule of the House of Representatives, while the Senate is likely to remain in Democrat hands. My prediction is that the filibuster will remain untouched by Democrats who don't dare do anything. The next two years will be full of gridlock and filibusters, and the economy will slowly flounder as nothing gets done. Republicans will use this to try and oust Obama, feeling that the damage to the nation is inconsequential compared to their need to regain the White House (and perhaps the Senate) in 2012.

If the Repubs do manage to get both Senate and White House in 2012, expect to see the filibuster nerfed. Republicans won't want to see Democrats have the same power to stop their agendas that they currently possess. (Imagine for a moment if there was no filibuster: how much legislation would have been passed? How much of it would have been reasonable instead of these corrupt bloated things designed to get 60 votes to overcome Republican obstructionism?)

I see dark clouds ahead. We're not going to see cooperation between Democrats and Republicans. Instead we'll see Republicans shut down government and the like and shout that Democrats just refuse to cooperate (cave in). If Democrats DO cave in... well, in 2012 we'll see even bigger wins with the Republican party as the young voters refuse to vote for the betrayers who stabbed them in the backs once again. Why vote for someone who just goes with the Republican whims? Just give up. Let voter apathy rule.

There's not really a path I see out of this. Democrats are now damned. Damned if they do. Damned if they don't. And it's all because they went into 2010 with a defeatist attitude, rather than attack Republicans on the grounds that they were firm on: Republican obstructionism ("For the past two years, Republicans have voted "no" to economic reforms to prevent another recession. They voted "no" for unemployment extension. They voted "no" for health care reform. Return the favor. Vote "no" for the Republicans."), Republican hatred, and Republican denial.

Democrats don't have the balls to stand up and fight. They've lacked the balls for the past 50 years. And as a result, a party that should be dead in the water has regained power and in two years will be in a position to undo everything Democrats tried to do from 2008-2010... and lead the nation back into ruin once more while lining the pockets of their rich buddies.

RIP, Republican Party. Long live the Neocons.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

At least Cal. Prop. 23 looks like it's been shot down. (But what about that other 'high' flyer?)

In an ironic twist, it is reported that rooftop solar panels in Germany may soon risk overloading the power grid! (It's a problem, to be sure, but not one I'd mind having!)

uppest: the one with the highest orbiting satellite.

Anonymous said...

Blight asked: "If the future doesn't need us any more - for labor that is, what will be the repercussions?"

Martin Ford and Marshall Brain have written extensively about this.

See Marshall Brain's articles "Robotic Nation"
http://www.marshallbrain.com/robotic-nation.htm

and "Robots in 2015"
http://www.marshallbrain.com/robots-in-2015.htm

as well as Martin Ford's articles "The coming structural unemployment crisis"
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/martin-ford/the-coming-structural-une_b_586885.html

and "Unemployment: the economists just don't get it" for details:
http://www.todaysworkplace.org/2010/08/25/unemployment-the-economists-just-dont-get-it/

If the talk of robots operating fast food restaurants and restocking WalMart shelves seems science fiction, bear in mind that it's already happening in limited test sites now. As technology advances, it's only a matter of time until the tech gets deployed widely enough to produce the kind of economic upheavals Ford and Brain and talking about.

DJB said...

Despite having published a few good Killer B stories, BAEN'S UNIVERSE was far from the best online magazine. SCI FICTION always had something smart and interesting on tap. Eric Flint, on the other hand, seemed to have an agenda of dumbing down short SF and publishing a bunch of Honor Harrington and Man-Kzin Wars remakes.

LarryHart said...

looniewolf:

CNN is predicting Republican rule of the House of Representatives, while the Senate is likely to remain in Democrat hands. My prediction is that the filibuster will remain untouched by Democrats who don't dare do anything.


Yesterday, in a fit of despair, I predicted that IF the Republicans took the SENATE, they'd abolish the filibuster in their first 100 minutes.

But in retrospect, that probably wouldn't have happened. Since the Democrats can effectively block GOP legislaiton with a Presidential veto (which requires even MORE Senators to override), there'd not much to gain by preventing Democratic filibusters.

Since the GOP DIDN'T get the Senate, it's a moot point anyway.

Had the Dems hung onto BOTH houses, then THEY might have tried to blow up the filibuster, but with the House Republicans in charge of the agenda, there's little to gain by denying them a filibuster in the Senate. The House isn't going to send the Senate anything the GOP would WANT to filibuster.

So neither party has a good reason to go "nuclear" with the filibuster rules as things stand.


The next two years will be full of gridlock and filibusters, and the economy will slowly flounder as nothing gets done.

Republicans will use this to try and oust Obama, feeling that the damage to the nation is inconsequential compared to their need to regain the White House (and perhaps the Senate) in 2012.


Agreed on all counts. I hope people are as quick to throw these NEW bums out as they were to throw the OLD bums out, but I'm not looking forward to how bad things have to get in the interim. Even if we forget about the inter-party intrigue at the country's expense, the fact is that an increased focus on shrinking government spending and lowering debt is going to make a depression-era economy WORSE, not better.

I'm starting to think that the business of helping those unfortunate enough to fall through the cracks will have to be taken up by local communities, as the selfishness (in the Ayn Randian sense) of the American public at large becomes ascendant. I'll be investigating how to help with that sort of effort in my suburb, because I see no interest in being a "community" from the country at large.

Tacitus2 said...

Quite a night, and the results more or less in line with my predictions. I wonder if those who were/are so miffed about the Senate rules that make it such a ponderous legislative body are any happier that the more "representative" organ of the legislature has now shown the reality--the country has always had a conservative bent, apart from unusual convergences of events and personalities.

It is interesting that the voters appear to be discerning. Some of the flakier insurgents have been rejected. No doubt the legacy media and the WH would have loved a Senator O'Donnell to use as a punching bag.

Count on my to lead the charge when unsatisfactory rascals need to be ejected, but the voters appear to have pre-selected a few!

We may enter an era where private charity becomes more important and government largess less so. This is an area where conservatives are comfortable, and where our giving overall is more than those of the progressive stripe. (many notable exceptions...just at a tropical med conference where much good from the B and Melinda Gates foundation discussed).

No doubt the GOP would like to win the WH in 2012. I imagine we will see some posturing and polititalking. But they are not, imho, dumb enough to talk impeachment or Inquisition. If they are, we will see another radical shift in 2 years.

Hang in there, it's gonna be ok.

Tacitus2

Anonymous said...

"the venial thieves who have robbed us"

I would have written "venal" here.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2, first of all, I'll be the first to be conciliatory toward you. You're a good winner. I'll try to be a good loser.

You said:

We may enter an era where private charity becomes more important and government largess less so. This is an area where conservatives are comfortable, and where our giving overall is more than those of the progressive stripe.


I'm not sure if you're specifically responding to what I said about community efforts. What you say is well and good as far as it goes, but I'm talking about something slightly different from handouts--I'm talking about community. Community as almost an extended family.

If I were unemployed and hungry, my extended family would look after me until I could get back on my feet. If my mom has to spend all her money on my dad's nursing home (a very real possibility), I will find some way not to have her thrown out of her house. That sort of thing. Not just an impersonal handout, but actually CARING about other people in distress.

Now, I'm not so foolishly ideological as to believe that everyone can care that way about EVERYBODY, but neither is it simply a matter of genetic relationship. Proximity and intertwining of lives--community--isn't AS binding a tie as family, but it is one nonetheless. My daughter has friends whose parents I've come to know well enough to care what happens to them.

What I foolishly hoped as a Liberal was that a certain amount of that sort of thing (low level, but still there) was felt to be owed fellow-Americans BY Americans. No, I don't expect "government" to force people to support strangers monetarily, but government IS a proper vehicle for ADMINISTERING such a safety net once We The People decide we want to have one.

Growing up in the 60s and 70s' I thought that We The People HAD decided such a thing. The rhetoric of the 2010s shows me otherwise. So be it. Again, I agree, "government" can't force it, or shouldn't do so anyway.

Which is why I say that real communities who DO have a sense of community had better get into the business of administering their OWN safety nets. I think that's second best, but worth doing in the absence of a national one.


No doubt the GOP would like to win the WH in 2012. I imagine we will see some posturing and polititalking. But they are not, imho, dumb enough to talk impeachment or Inquisition. If they are, we will see another radical shift in 2 years.


I think your conclusion is correct, but I DO think they're dumb enough to go the impeachment AND inquisition route. That might help Obama in 2012 as it did Clinton in 1998, but I'd rather not go through that again, so I hope you're right and I'm wrong.


Hang in there, it's gonna be ok.


It always is, somehow, isn't it?

This probably isn't directly relevant, but it seems appropriate to end on here. I don't have an attribution:

"The optimist says that this is the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist agrees with him."

looniewolf said...

And we've stepped one step closer to Cyperpunk. Chips embedded under the eye's retina can be used to restore sight. We've already external cameras that can input images to the mind, but this? Well, if we can put a chip under the retina to capture light impulses... then why not, eventually, replace the eye altogether and have cameras in the shape of eyes in their place?

Of course, I can see the police freaking out about this. Would they try to force someone to remove (or turn off if possible) their optics when arresting them so they're not illegally filmed? And for that matter... what about eyes that can see in more spectrums than just the visual range? I know that some video cameras had a problem with shared usage of IR and visual light at the same time that... um... ended up filming people through their clothes (there was a recall, but people snatched up those cameras as quickly as possible after realizing what they could do).

We've already issues concerning artificial limbs - one double-amputee was forced to not run in the Olympics (I believe) because his prosthetics were lighter than normal legs, giving him an "undue advantage" and attempts to shift him to the Special Olympics (where, let's face it, he'd have an unfair advantage and probably be banned in turn).

In the next ten years I can see some significant advances in prosthetics and the like. We may in the next twenty years see people having elective surgery to replace healthy body parts for the advantage technological replacements can offer. We may also see other innovations, such as tattoos that can alter shape and color according to the programming of the user.

And in turn we may see laws passed by purists banning elective surgery of such devices due to fears of the Technological Singularity these advances hint at. And other nations who refuse to regulate these prosthetics... and even a black market in replacement parts.

Rob H., looking to the future

Tacitus2 said...

LarryH

What I had in the back of my mind when I wrote about private vs public charity was the proposal, floated very early in the Obama admin., to reduce the tax benefits of charitable donations.

Now, I would be more than willing to agree that there are scam foundations and such, and that the wealthy can garner more advantage from donations than the poor (although perhaps in some next plane of existence the widow's mite is valued higher!).

But honestly, it was the sort of clarion call that perhaps this administration was out of touch with much of America.

If you are enjoying the excellent experience of being an American citizen with some extra money, you by God ought to donate some notable percentage of it to do good works as you see them. 10% is a nice number. Pre tax if you can, post tax if that's the best you can do.

Would I trust any governmental agency to do as much good with it as Doctor's Without Borders or the local domestic abuse shelter? No. Would you?

Another time we should converse on the challenges of creating a community. There are many new factors in play. A few positive, more negative ones.

Tacitus2

Tim H. said...

Haynes is publishing a repair manual for the starship Enterprise:
http://trekmovie.com/2010/04/24/cover-details-for-haynes-uss-enterprise-manual-details-on-typhon-pact-book-series/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1324805/Haynes-publishes-owners-manual-Star-Treks-U-S-S-Enterprise.html

Might be ironic if a ficticious machine got a book with better paper and higher resolution illustrations then books for existing vehicles.

rewinn said...

"...reality--the country has always had a conservative bent..."

Were that true, it would have been less necessary for a small number of carbon and corporate barons to form post-Citizens United secretive organizations to influence the elections.

That they didn't succeed all the way is largely because their Tea Party ground troops slipped the leash and wreaked a little too much havoc in Arizona, Delaware and Colorado. But the Aristocracy learns; while their figureheads tend towards an amusing duncedom it is foolish to assume the same of their effectual leadership, given their record of success in crippling our great nation. I predict that they will have the GOP primary process well under control the next time around. After all, it is only a question of investing money wisely.

Seriously, what would stop them? An outraged band of a million citizens with a $25 dollar donations apiece? That's chump change to the Koches and the Saudis.

Just wait for the farm bill and see how the red states fare. It'll be PATCO all over.

David Brin said...

We Californians did our duty.

If Blue America won't stand up, then maybe we should go back to the Bear Flag Republic.

Just a brief drop-in, I'm afraid. I will do it only now and then... but keep arguing!

Hypnos said...

Tacitus:
Charitable donations in the US in 2006 were 295 billions.

Social security, health assistance and welfare were 1830 billions in 2009.

That's a big gap to close.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Would I trust any governmental agency to do as much good with it as Doctor's Without Borders or the local domestic abuse shelter? No. Would you?

That depends on what it is you're asking to be done, and on what scale. Charity is great for focused causes, but general public issues, or mass-scale issues/crises? Charity donations will help, sure, but they can't compete with government resources, both in monetary contribution and hardware and manpower contribution.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Hypnos

I think your charitable contributions are off by a magnitude or two

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_charitable_countries

The GHA July 2010 report also lists countries ranked by generosity as donation per citizen from data collected in 2008.[6]

1. Luxembourg - $114/citizen
2. Norway - $96/citizen
3. Sweden - $66/citizen
4. Ireland - $66/citizen
5. Kuwait - $33/citizen
6. Saudi Arabia - $29/citizen
7. United Arab Emirates - $25/citizen
8. United Kingdom - $17/citizen
9. United States - $14/citizen
10. Germany - $9/citizen

$14/citizen = $4.2 Billion
not $295 billion

Stefan Jones said...

Oregon remains thoroughly bluish-purple.

Oh, this is rich. The Tea Party Patriots show what they're really about just a day after the election:

Tea Party Patriots Lay Claim to the Political Center in Debates to Come

The Tea Party Patriots, one of the the largest Tea Party umbrella organizations, with over 1,000 local chapters, hosted a press conference this morning to offer its reactions to last night’s elections and its vision going forward.

Co-founder Mark Meckler tried to pre-empt expectations among the faithful that Washington would shrink and the federal deficit would close overnight, instead alluding to a “forty-year plan” that the group was busy working out with its members. The plan, according to Meckler, was a highway with four lanes, only one of which was explicitly political. The other three were educational, judicial and cultural.

“All civilizations and empires have fallen because their cultures became decadent,” Meckler said. “We need to lift up conservative culture, family values and wholesome things by supporting conservative musicians, writers, artists and producers.”


So much for small government, reducing government influence over people's lives, and concentrating on the deficit.

They're a bunch of meddling, moralizing, nanny-state busy-bodies who want to control what you see, read, and think.

Tony Fisk said...

Shades of One Nation.

What is... a conservative musician?

Actually, they do have a point: some of the best artistry occurs when there is a high degree of constraint placed upon the artist. (I'm thinking the Film Noir movement, nursery rhymes like 'Doctor Foster', and Stostakovich. They probably are not..)

Meanwhile, I'll stick to an Auntie-state.

ingloott: a state of helpless entanglement brought on by the prospect of imminent riches.

Rob Perkins said...

Duncan, is it possible to break down how much of that $14/person is donated as a tithe to a church, to fund church operations, as compared to money donated for causes a secularist would also support?

Rob Perkins said...

@David, yours is a state with an explicit right to secede. Even so, I think we'd all be much worse off without CA in the union.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Rob

Looking at that $14 compared to the heathens in the UK ($17) I would be surprised if much is through the church compared to Non church giving

Not entirely sure I believe the numbers - $1000/head
(from Hypnos's figures)is far too much but $14/head seems too little

The article did say that it included personal donations as well as government and was to local poor as well as foreign

Ian said...

"In an ironic twist, it is reported that rooftop solar panels in Germany may soon risk overloading the power grid! (It's a problem, to be sure, but not one I'd mind having!)"

It's not that major a problem.

In the medium-term the Germans can increase interlinks with the rest of the European grid - so as well as shutting down German peaking stations the other countries can also shut down capacity.

The longer-term solution is to increase the storage capacity of the network.

Grid-scale energy storage is a huge money-making opportunity and after decades of companies throwing money at the problem
the first multi-megawatthour storage units are starting to come onto the market.

Tim H. said...

Interesting commentary on the election here:
http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=12211

Essentially says that public statements on conservative economic policy are FMEs (The author uses more delicate language than I do) and their actual policies are designed to contract the economy and increase unemployment. FWIW, I suspect the conservative movement began well, but it's current masters have little conception of it's roots and have become rudderless reactionaries.

looniewolf said...

$14 a person may seem stingy. But then you need to consider just how many poor and barely-solvent Americans there are. That has a tendency to drive down the total, as the poor and barely-solvent can't afford to donate.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

German solar roofs overloading the power grid was portrayed as a potential problem, but a number of mitigating factors were listed (eg production tends to be soaked up locally, so the overloading really only occurs in remote parts of the grid)

Hmm! The not so muted references to the 'S' word puts a new slant on that quip about defending the right to arm bears!

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin said:

We Californians did our duty.


We Illinoisans didn't so much. But there are exceptions to both statements. I notice your state passed the resolution to remove redistricting power from the legilature without waiting for other states to do the same. Net loss for the Democrats. Meanwhile, at the STATE level, Illinois Dems retained control of both houses and it looks like our Dem governor will squeak by as well. Net gain for Democrats (in terms of redistricting).


If Blue America won't stand up, then maybe we should go back to the Bear Flag Republic.


Well, the phrase "Sometimes you get the bear. Sometimes the bear gets you" did occur to me quite often yesterday.


Just a brief drop-in, I'm afraid. I will do it only now and then... but keep arguing!


Hey, it's not all arguing. Some of us are actually trying to figure out how to maintain a civilization in the upcoming (at least) two years of depression-era gridlock.

LarryHart said...

Stefan Jones said:

Oh, this is rich. The Tea Party Patriots show what they're really about just a day after the election:


And the article he lined to had:

Meckler underscored the complicated Tea Party attitude toward compromise when he reminded GOP House Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) that the “American people are not in a flexible mood,” but told President Obama that the group is “happy to work with [him]” to the extent that he supports the values of “fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets.”

One might reasonably argue that the president is already a supporter of all three concepts, but the Tea Party Patriots certainly aren’t intending to imply as much. Instead, the group is essentially willing to work with Obama to the extent that he is willing to enact exactly the agenda — repealing federal health care reform, cutting taxes — that the group demands. It’s a strange vision of how politics works, but it makes sense if you are convinced that your vision represents the dead center of American politics.


This is why Democrats can't hold the same kind of united line that allowed the Republicans to constantly filibuster with 41 solid votes. THEY'RE throroughly convinced that all of their positions are the correct ones and that WE have nothing to add to the debate. WE tend to welcome debate and accept the fact that the other side might have valuable insight to offer. In a functioning democracy, the latter should be self-evidently the way to manage government, but in our current "all campaign all the time" mode, the GOP method gets better (political) results for them.

To me, that's the definition of a disfunctional system--one in which the individual legislators are rewarded for doing what LEAST helps the country function. Not sure what to do about it, though. I doubt the Democrats could win at the Republicans' own game any more than America could have beaten Nazi Germany by being more brutal and totalitarian (see Dr. Brin's "The Life Eaters").

Rush Limbaugh rhetorically asked yesterday "How do you compromise with evil?" On its face, that's a good question. But when he listed who he meant by "evil": socialists, statists, and (emphasis mine) LIBERALS, he demonstrates why bipartisanship is impossible. LIBERALS are so self-evidently evil as to be dismissed out of hand as having nothing to contribute?

My old conservative friend Chris (who no longer talks to me) used to like to accuse liberals and Democrats of "making deals with our murderers". By "our murderers", he meant Iran and Arabs and (of course) socialists, but his admonition stands. Compromising with people like Limbaugh, Beck, and company, or their legislative counterparts McConnell and Boener--who expressly state their intention to destroy us--is a a mug's game. President Obama is too smart NOT to see this. Why won't he wake up?

David Brin said...

Guys, I am too busy to post anything right now... the COLBERT REPORT film crew arrives here in an hour. (They always edit such interviews to make the interviewee look foolish, so get ready! Gulp!)

Nevertheless, I am passing along the following. It is from a liberal group... and hence, it includes a few items that I care about less than others. Also, several of the items seem quixotic and impossible, in this climate.

And they left off the things I care about most, like re-funding the OTSA in Congress and fighting for science.

Still, it will do as a stopgap list of to-do items, till I can think and post my own. I don't always agree with liberals, and cast a wary eye at lefties... but they are not the danger, right now.

----
This is posted as a public service to those who may feel a sense of hopelessness right about now. This is a list of actions that CREDO endorses, each of which has the potential to effect enormous change. Take action on each of them, and boost the signal.

1. Commit to Taking Down FOX News. So long as FOX News has any credibility within the Beltway, it will be a pipeline for malicious material that will poison our political culture. Join our friends at Color of Change turnofffox.org/landing?credo.


2. Tell the Senate to pass the DISCLOSE Act during the lame duck session. We were able to defeat the Texas Oil Initiative, Prop 23 in California, in part because we knew who the enemy was -- having disclosure of corporate contributions brings the enemy out in the open for us to take on and fight. The DISCLOSE Act passed the House and came within a single vote of passing the Senate. One vote. You can join this fight by taking action with Public Citizen at:citizen.org/disclose-act-action.


3. Keep fighting to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. This issue will get resolved during the lame duck session. Take action atact.credoaction.com/campaign/bushtaxcuts.


4. Sign up for the fight for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision by declaring that corporations do not have the legal rights of humans. This may take years, if not decades, but we should start now. Please join Free Speech for People: freespeechforpeople.org/.


5. Tell the FCC to use its existing authority to establish and defend net neutrality. Our friends at Free Press are leading this charge:act2.freepress.net/sign/put_up/.



...continued...

David Brin said...

6. Demand that the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service investigate the political organizations set up by Karl Rove to launder millions of dollars in secret cash to change the outcome of elections. Act now atact.credoaction.com/campaign/investigate_crossroads.


7. Defend the EPA from castration by pro-coal interests in Congress. The EPA accomplished almost nothing during the Clinton years because the Gingrich-led Congress used the budget process to prohibit the agency from doing its work. This battle has already started. The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign is a great way to join this fight: sierraclub.org/coal.


8. Convince the Obama administration to stop appealing progressive court rulings on matters like the Defense of Marriage Act, Don't Ask Don't Tell, and the state secrets defense against torture and wiretapping. Urge the Department of Justice to change its approach at act.credoaction.com/campaign/stop_appealing.


9. Urge Democratic senators to do away with lifetime tenure for committee chairs and open up all chair positions to majority vote elections. This will go a long way towards more progressive legislation. Take action with us atact.credoaction.com/campaign/end_seniority_system.


10. Demand that the Department of Justice enforce the provisions of the national voter registration law that require state governments to offer to register all voters at departments of public welfare and motor vehicles. Many state governments simply ignore these requirements and this is a cheaper and more inclusive way of registering voters than the campaigns of the now dead ACORN. Urge Attorney General Eric Holder to expand voter registration:credoaction.com/campaign/enforce_motor_voter.

Aw heck. AIn't none of these things gonna happen. so simply do this.

* Appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Bush era corruption in the vetting of "emergency clause contracts." Unleash him. And let Boehner just TRY to call him back. *

TheMadLibrarian said...

Ian, one of my friends is involved in a small local company that produces and installs solar panel power generators. We are ideally situated for solar power production, but the problem has always been the same as for wind, to a lesser extent: conditioning the power produced so that the customers downstream get a consistent flow. Their latest contract involves installing what amounts to a huge UPS for a part of the grid that is trying to go mostly with local power. Storage capacity has always been an issue for renewable power, and only recently have we come up with tricks to let us convert irregular sources to something conditioned and useable.

TheMadLibrarian

rersi: a candidate's 180 turn when politically expedient

rewinn said...

I am reminded of the scene near the end of "Earth", in which the Big Bad is squishing humanity one by one, and as the worldmind/internet community scrambles to react ... each individual in his or her own way ... a singnificant segment starts placing bets on whether humanity would survive.... knowing that those betting against would be unable to collect their winnings, but what-the-heck ...

...in a similar, although less apocolyptic vein, I would like to place bets whether the rising power of the Aristocracy's organizations post-Citizens United will swamp the rising intelligence of the netmind. I honestly don't know.

Hypnos said...

My data for charity were from the AEI.

So I guess they can be disregarded at this point.

rewinn said...

Meanwhile, for those who believe in the ideals of the Federation: George Takei Takes On Gay-Hating Schoolboard Guy.

It'll make you smile at the very least!

Tony Fisk said...

I also seem to recall that the situation at the end of Earth was created by some oligarchic interests attempting to wrest control of the singularity. Unfortunately for them and everyone else, the dragon they'd been chasing and relying on went into rapture mode (with possible promptings from a nascent alien mindset?).

(Still, remember, this *is* still the year of the Tiger! ;-)

(But... oh dear! 2012 is the year of the dragon :-(

No! No! We do *not* live in end times: that's why they're difficult!

Must send a BZE to Sierra's Beyond Coal.

Meantime, enjoy the interview. I'm sure the dungeon denizens will...

Stefan Jones said...

Something I'd love to see:

Tiny (well, shipping container sized) self-contained chemical factories that perform something useful using electrical current and periodically delivered feedstocks. Making fertilizer, perhaps, or cracking hydrogen. You'd put these on the edge of wind farms to sop up extra juice on an as-needed basis.

Once a month or so, a service picks up the finished goods and replaces the feedstock.


'worop': Sauce for grilled widgery grubs.

David Brin said...

11:45 am... A crew from the Colbert Report has just arrived at my house to interview me....on the subject of aliens and possible threats to humanity. What could possibly go wrong?

7:30 pm! They just left!
I have a lot of film crews come by. But none have stayed so long, demanded so much B-Roll footage,... or paid for pizza!
Exhausting, but Jeff was a really smart producer.

Of course that won't protect me from being sacrificed to the Gods of Comedy! Tried to not give any ways to edit me foolish, but...

In fact some of my facebook crowd offered some GREAT suggestions that I wish I'd read beforehand! Like I should have said Tek Jansen will save us from aliens! Or mentioned Gorlock, Stephen's financial advisor ;-)

Oh, they left some COOL schwag! "Keep fear alive!" banner, T shirt, cap with a big red "C" on it (doesn't rotate tho) and a signed rally poster. I was gonna call Jeff and tell him that he left the stuff here...

... but heck, it was a long day, so I gonna keep it all!

Will post when/if they tell me it'll run. And even if they make me look silly, I am a friend of the show! And Jon Stewart can kiss my big fat alien-fearing....

;-)

TwinBeam said...

I'm not too displeased with the election results, in part because it gives the Reps a chance to remind the memory-impaired electorate just how badly they screwed things up, before the 2012 election.

Except for one horrible thing - I've read where some analysts (and not just on Fox) are taking it as evidence that, because many candidates she endorsed won, Palin is a rising political star with a ticket to the Rep. candidacy for 2012.

Though I generally like McCain, he permanently lost my vote for his foolish/dangerous choice of running mate, demonstrating terminally bad judgement and/or weakness in giving in to horribly misguided advice.

Tony Fisk said...

The only way I can square McCain's choice is that he was trying to hold a mirror up to GOP supporters in the hopes that they would *not* like what they saw. He was wrong.

Ian said...

"Tiny (well, shipping container sized) self-contained chemical factories that perform something useful using electrical current and periodically delivered feedstocks. Making fertilizer, perhaps, or cracking hydrogen. You'd put these on the edge of wind farms to sop up extra juice on an as-needed basis."

Or compressing air and fractionating it to produce liquid nitrogen for use in fertilser manufacture (and maybe capturing carbon dioxide and methane as a sideline.)

Also, wireless recharging for electric cars continues to advance.

http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-electric-cars-wirelessly-london-video.html

Potetnailly electric cars will soon not only outperform IC cars, they'll be cheaper too.

Initially I'm sure that if and when inductive charging gets out of the lab it'll be used in very limited areas - highways and at traffic lights for example.

But as the charging network spreads, eelctric cars will be able to reduce the size, weight and expense involved in cartiogn around batteries.

Oh and here's an odd thought - why not set electric cars up to transfer charge between vehicles .

You could have a net billing system where you were credited for power you transferred ot other vehicles and debited for power you took from them.

CulturalEngineer said...

Congrats on Colbert Report interview!

He's truly a shining light in American culture.

P.S.

This is off topic but may be of interest to you:

From Technology Review this morning:

The Frightening Link Between Phase Changes And Terrorism
http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/25979/

Makes cogent argument re key problem in military action against terrorists...

Ian said...

The 2010 Human Development Report is out and, as usual, provides lots of food for thought.

It occurs to me that by taking a population-weighted average of the national HDI results you could produce a single composite measure of the welfare of the human race.

Ian said...

Sorry, forgot the links:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2010/11/human_development_index

http://hdr.undp.org/en/

LarryHart said...

Twin Beam said:

I'm not too displeased with the election results, in part because it gives the Reps a chance to remind the memory-impaired electorate just how badly they screwed things up, before the 2012 election.


I agree with you that voters SHOULD be able to recognize what a mistake they made, but not necessarily that they WILL. Unfortunately, the GOP is better at framing the media message. Instead of "The GOP House and the GOP filibusters in the Senate prevented necessary government action", they'll frame it as "Democrats controlled the White House and the Senate and STILL couldn't fix the economy."

Note, I'm not being a mere partisan when I say the voters made a "mistake". I mean that they were angry with the party who didn't fix the economy quickly enough, so they put the party who BROKE it back into power.


Except for one horrible thing - I've read where some analysts (and not just on Fox) are taking it as evidence that, because many candidates she endorsed won, Palin is a rising political star with a ticket to the Rep. candidacy for 2012.


Again, this could be good or bad for Democrats. They key is how Palin would do in a general election, presumably against President Obama. She's certainly a disaster waiting to happen, but for which side? Is she the next Christine O'Donnell, or the next Rand Paul?


Though I generally like McCain, he permanently lost my vote for his foolish/dangerous choice of running mate, demonstrating terminally bad judgement and/or weakness in giving in to horribly misguided advice.

then, Tony Fisk said...

The only way I can square McCain's choice is that he was trying to hold a mirror up to GOP supporters in the hopes that they would *not* like what they saw. He was wrong.


There are some things I do give McCain props for, but I don't think he selected a running mate to show the voters that they wouldn't like her. That would have been a horrible tactical move, since it would be almost impossible to replace her on the ticket between September and November.

No, I think McCain (and the GOP in general) found himself in a sort of Seldon Crisis where there was only one course of action open to him. Remember, the McCain campaign could get no traction at all until they named Palin. That woke up their base and made it a horse race again. Palin ended up being a disaster of sorts, but they would have done even worse in 2008 without her.

What I DO give McCain full credit for was realizing how close to the brink they were at with people at their rallies shouting "Traitor!" and "Kill him!" about then-Candidate Obama. There was one poor woman (I don't mean economically "poor") at a rally who was on the verge of tears wondering if the country could survive an Obama takeover, and McCain talked her down and assured her that Senator Obama is a decent man who wants what's best for the country, just as he (McCain) does. It wasn't the best tactical political thing to say, but it was the only decent, human thing to say at the time.

LarryHart said...

An example of what I mean when I say the voters made a mistake...this is a quote from an article in today's Chicago Tribune, but it's hardly unique. It's a pretty common message in this year's election and post-election coverage:


"The unmistakable message sent by the American people on Tuesday is that they are justifiably angry at Washington. They want Congress to cut spending,"


They're angry at Washington, presumably to some extent becuase the economy isn't improving. And they simultaneously want Congress to cut spending. Without spending, it is virtually impossible for a recession (if not depression) economy to improve. We're stuck in a downward spiral where high unemployment leads to low demand, which leads to more layoffs, etc, etc. How does anyone possibly think that LOWERING government spending (lowering demand even further) is going to help the situation.

LarryHart said...

Ok, I know I said I'd tone down the politics after the election. Last blatantly political post for today, I promise.

From that same Tribune article:

Boehner, in his ABC interview, said he's not sure the president and other Democrats fully understand the message delivered by the voters on Tuesday. "When you have the most historic election in over 60, 70 years, you would think the other party would understand that the American people have clearly repudiated the policies they've put forward in the last few years."


This isn't anything LIKE what they were saying when the voters sent an equal-and-opposite repudiation in 2006 and 2008.

It's like the Republicans are playing American League baseball, and they want the Designated Hitter rule when THEY'RE at bat, but argue vociferously that there's something wrong with the OTHER team using it--during the course of the same game.

Ian said...

So, you know the right-wing rhetoric about how business taxes need to be kept low?


From a comprehensive global survey prepared by Price Waterhouse Cooper for the World Bank:

http://doingbusiness.org/~/media/fpdkm/doing%20business/documents/special-reports/db10-paying-taxes.pdf

Refer to Table 1.4 on pages 86-88

US total effective tax rate:46.3%
China:63.8%
India:64.7%
Brazil: 69.2%

If US businesses are relocating to India and China they're doing so [B]despite [/B]the local tax rates not because of them.

Overall. The US ranks 118th out of 181 countries (with a higher ranking meaning a higher effective tax rate).

There's also little or no correlation between either poverty and economic growth rates and the level of taxation.

The lowest-taxing country in the world is East Timor, also frequently cited as the poorest country in the world; the highest taxing country is Gambia. Gambia is a poor country with high levels of poverty, however it's doing pretty well compared to many of its African peers and economic growth currently in excess of 5%.

Tim H. said...

From this un-exalted perspective, the current U.S. tax swindle, with it's low rates and high complexity seems more to the liking of gargantuan corporations, who can best afford to navigate a byzantine tax code. Simplification, even at higher rates, would work better for individuals and small businesses. As long as the right wing only talks about tax rates, they're only making happy noises about small business.

Ian said...

Unintentionally, one of my my recent themes here has been that Africa is no longer the pathetic basket case it is so freqenntly depicted as in the western media and in western discourse.

For example, they've now started generating internet memes mocking common machismo stereotypes.

http://makmende.net/

Ian said...

Unintentionally, one of my my recent themes here has been that Africa is no longer the pathetic basket case it is so freqenntly depicted as in the western media and in western discourse.

For example, they've now started generating internet memes mocking common machismo stereotypes.

http://makmende.net/

David Brin said...

A friend of mine offers this guest remark:

I've been reading bits and pieces about American history, and just stumbled onto the following (below), from a wikipedia article on Indian Removal that I jumped to from an article on Andrew Jackson.

It seems to me that the US is very much now in the corner Jefferson tried to paint the American Indians into: having to sell off most of what they own (mostly to China and oil exporting countries), to maintain a style to which we've become addicted.

And we know that didn't turn out too well for the Indians--even in the cases in which we didn't push things well beyond that.

"We are now the Indians" (or even "Planning on getting scalped?") might be a useful theme for a secular sermon in some forum.

Joe

Jefferson's expectation was that by assimilating them into an agricultural lifestyle, they would become economically dependent on trade with white Americans, and would thereby be willing to give up land that they would otherwise not part with, in exchange for trade goods. In an 1803 letter to William Henry Harrison, Jefferson wrote:

'To promote this disposition to exchange lands, which they have to spare and we want, for necessaries, which we have to spare and they want, we shall push our trading uses, and be glad to see the good and influential individuals among them run in debt, because we observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands.... In this way our settlements will gradually circumscribe and approach the Indians, and they will in time either incorporate with us a citizens or the United States, or remove beyond the Mississippi. The former is certainly the termination of their history most happy for themselves; but, in the whole course of this, it is essential to cultivate their love. As to their fear, we presume that our strength and their weakness is now so visible that they must see we have only to shut our hand to crush them, and that all our liberalities to them proceed from motives of pure humanity only. Should any tribe be foolhardy enough to take up the hatchet at any time, the seizing the whole country of that tribe, and driving them across the Mississippi, as the only condition of peace, would be an example to others, and a furtherance of our final consolidation.'


ooog..

David Brin said...

A friend of mine offers this guest remark:

I've been reading bits and pieces about American history, and just stumbled onto the following (below), from a wikipedia article on Indian Removal that I jumped to from an article on Andrew Jackson.

It seems to me that the US is very much now in the corner Jefferson tried to paint the American Indians into: having to sell off most of what they own (mostly to China and oil exporting countries), to maintain a style to which we've become addicted.

And we know that didn't turn out too well for the Indians--even in the cases in which we didn't push things well beyond that.

"We are now the Indians" (or even "Planning on getting scalped?") might be a useful theme for a secular sermon in some forum.

Joe

Jefferson's expectation was that by assimilating them into an agricultural lifestyle, they would become economically dependent on trade with white Americans, and would thereby be willing to give up land that they would otherwise not part with, in exchange for trade goods. In an 1803 letter to William Henry Harrison, Jefferson wrote:

'To promote this disposition to exchange lands, which they have to spare and we want, for necessaries, which we have to spare and they want, we shall push our trading uses, and be glad to see the good and influential individuals among them run in debt, because we observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands.... In this way our settlements will gradually circumscribe and approach the Indians, and they will in time either incorporate with us a citizens or the United States, or remove beyond the Mississippi. The former is certainly the termination of their history most happy for themselves; but, in the whole course of this, it is essential to cultivate their love. As to their fear, we presume that our strength and their weakness is now so visible that they must see we have only to shut our hand to crush them, and that all our liberalities to them proceed from motives of pure humanity only. Should any tribe be foolhardy enough to take up the hatchet at any time, the seizing the whole country of that tribe, and driving them across the Mississippi, as the only condition of peace, would be an example to others, and a furtherance of our final consolidation.'


ooog..

netsettler said...

David, I wondered if you or your community here have an opinion on the Keith Olbermann suspension.

In a blog post yesterday, I made the claim that because human contributions are limited to a modest amount ($2400), it’s not realistically possible to unduly influence an election by making them and so they ought to be a private matter, out of the reach of employers to control. I also made the claim that because corporate contributions are potentially unlimited, that disclosure is quite important. It’s not the kind of simple rule people like, but then it comes because of that stupid legal person fiction.

Today I followed up with a general discussion of other issues related to the suspension. Now having stripped away the smokescreen, I'm leaning toward believing this particular suspension is really due to an internal feud at MSNBC.

And yet, even if it is, the big issue remains: What if ordinary people had their campaign contributions controlled by their employer? It sounds like an awful precedent and yet seems not to be the focus of public discussion. The only way I can think of to make the outcome of the Citizens United case worse than it already is would be to find that not only can corporations give unlimited amounts but they can tell humans they can't give any at all.

supra shoes said...

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rewinn said...

@Netsettler -
Some say OlbermannGate illustrates a distinction between MSNBC and Fox. Fox talking heads openly contribute to political candidates, AND endorse them on the air, help them raise funds on their program, and headline political events off-the-air. Whether or not MSNBC should have suspended Olbermann, at least it is making gestures toward being an objective organization. (This point courtesy of Rachel Maddow who documents the factual assertions here).

Of course, the point is somewhat undercut by reports that Joe Scarborough made much larger political contributions and remains unpunished.

Either way, I am indeed concerned about the idea that a contract for employment can limit free speech, for "Money is Speech" as we all know from "Citizens United". The idea that your employer can limit your speech in the privacy of your home ... assuming Olberman wrote his check at home ... is distasteful. Limiting employee speech while at work is unexceptional, and morals clauses are not entirely unreasonable, but MSNBC seeks to define Olberman's speech away from the workplace. It's much better to allow it and to disclose it so that his viewers can decide.

One thing we may never know is whether Olbermann contributed several hundreds of millions to secret funds affecting political campaigns, so long as it was not "coordinated" with a candidate's campaign. Since he's not that rich, it's unlikely but who knows? In a world where it is reported that accompanied Obama to India, why should we limit ourselves to even remotely plausible speculation?

I suppose the Aristocracy will respond that EVERY person on the planet (whether human being or legal fiction) has the same right to contribute hundreds of millions secretly, so what could be more fair?

rewinn said...
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rewinn said...
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rewinn said...
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Tacitus2 said...

Regards the initial topic.
Zombie movies....ick. Can't stand 'em. I am neither frightened nor grossed out easily but I have steered clear of the entire genre since the original Dawn of the Dead. Still scares me.

It is btw not a new concept at all. I have been on an early medievel archeological site in Germany where they found a burial with the legs amputated post mortum and placed in the grave backwards. This was felt to be a "Wiederganger",or One who comes back. See, if the legs are on backwards he can try to catch you, but the faster he runs after you the more he goes in the wrong direction.

An elegant solution I thought.

Tacitus2

Jonathan S. said...

I liked one of the sign suggestions submitted to the website set up before the Rally To Restore Sanity/Fear:

"If you believe money = speech, try paying your Visa bill with an essay!"

peasism: a philosophical position which holds that we should "give peas a chance".

LarryHart said...

Dr. Brin's guest posted:


"We are now the Indians" (or even "Planning on getting scalped?") might be a useful theme for a secular sermon in some forum.


That line was explicitly used in Kurt Vonnegut's "Bluebeard" as a realization expressed by one character after a German condo developer came sniffing around trying to buy up his property.

LarryHart said...

rewinn:

I suppose the Aristocracy will respond that EVERY person on the planet (whether human being or legal fiction) has the same right to contribute hundreds of millions secretly, so what could be more fair?


That was exactly the message of Rand Paul's victory speech last Tuesday. My paraphrase: "It's a bad idea to tax the rich, because everyone else either works for rich people or lives by selling stuff to them."

In other words, this isn't even an unintended consequence of his worldview--it IS his worldview: that the "freedom" he celebrates is the moral equivalent of feudalism. Whoever can capture the essentials of survival and societal infrastructure as their own private property has the FREEDOM to set terms by which everyone else "earns" their right to pieces of it by surrendering to them. And this is supposed to be an example of free trade among equals, untouchable by the heavy hand of "government".

This is the "law" of the jungle written into the law of the land. It's no different than the law in France at the time of "A Tale of Two Cities" in which the aristocracy had absolute authority (including life and death) over the common people, the inevitable result of which was the French Revolution. That this state of affairs is considered "freedom" really puts us deep into "1984" territory of language.


War is Peace.
Freedom is Slavery.
Ignorance is Strength.


That might as well be the motto on the corporate headquarters of FOX News.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Regards the initial topic.
Zombie movies....ick. Can't stand 'em. I am neither frightened nor grossed out easily but I have steered clear of the entire genre since the original Dawn of the Dead. Still scares me.


I also don't understand the fascination with zombies. As a comics fan, I'm well aware that zombies have been "in" in comics for close to a decade now. For awhile, it was even cute to have alternate covers printed for regular comics with zombies on the cover.

And whatever the appeal is, it goes completely over my head. Just one of those things that convinces me I was really born on some other planet and accidentally stranded on this one.


It is btw not a new concept at all. I have been on an early medievel archeological site in Germany where they found a burial with the legs amputated post mortum and placed in the grave backwards. This was felt to be a "Wiederganger",or One who comes back. See, if the legs are on backwards he can try to catch you, but the faster he runs after you the more he goes in the wrong direction.

An elegant solution I thought.


Reminds me of a thought experiment I once heard, imagining that one takes a couple's dual-temperature electric blanket (separate controls for his side and her side) and reverses the controls, so that he is (inadvertently) adjusting her side and vice versa. The result would be that as HE gets too hot, he turns down HER temperature, causing her to be too cold, which makes HER turn UP HIS temparature, etc. etc. It's a completely destructive viscious cycle.

Or to bring it back to politics, the same result as when people are so mad at the party who didn't fix the economy quickly enough that they vote the ones who broke it back into power.

looniewolf said...

I look forward to another science-based discussion by Dr. Brin; I've forfeited my right to talk about politics (except in fiction and fictional settings) for the next two years because I got lost looking for my polling place and didn't find it until the polls closed. Since I didn't vote (effort doesn't count) I can't participate, complain, or talk about it.

Rob H.

Rob said...

More like it's time to become an activist about permanent absentee or mail ballot voting. Such systems are working well in Oregon and Washington *without* the fraud and confusion naysayers predicted.

LarryHart said...

looniewolf:

I've forfeited my right to talk about politics (except in fiction and fictional settings) for the next two years because I got lost looking for my polling place and didn't find it until the polls closed. Since I didn't vote (effort doesn't count) I can't participate, complain, or talk about it.


So, if you had been purged from the voter roles by Katherine Harris in 2000 (say), you'd have forfeited your right to complain about the way she did that, or the way it affected the outcome?

Sorry, I don't buy it.

LarryHart said...

For the past decade or so, Illinois has been a sort of leading indicator of national politics. As recently as the year 2000, the governorship and the legislature were solidly Republican (Chicago Democrats notwithstanding). But long before President Bush lost and the national GOP lost their luster, a series of scandals involving the governor and a candiate for senator blew the Illinios GOP out of the water. In 2002, even rural downstate Illinois elected a Democrat with the unpronouncable name "Blagojevich" as governor, and in 2004, the Republicans literally could not find anyone willing to run for Senator against Barack Obama. An Illinois Republican couldn't have been elected dogcatcher in 2004. The state was prefiguring the implosion of the national Republicans in 2006 and 2008.

But then, the Blagojevich scandal got traction, and Democrats were suddently the party of corrpution. The anti-Democratic-incumbent grumbling in Illinois began shortly after the Obama-election euphoria, and I fervently hoped that this sentiment wouldn't also prefigure a national trend. But of course, it did.

In which context, this bit from Steve Chapman's blog in today's Chicago Tribune gives me just a bit of hope for the future:


Tuesday was a great day for Republicans in most of the country, but a bad one for the Illinois GOP. The victory of Mark Kirk in the Senate race obscured what has to be taken as grim news for the party's future.

Kirk -- a telegenic, moderate, well-funded candidate -- managed only a narrow victory over Alexi Giannoulias, a lightweight who rose mainly because of his ties to Barack Obama, who is considerably less popular than he used to be. Even carrying mob businessmen on his back, Giannoulias came close to winning amid a nationwide Republican tide.

As for the governor's race, what better conditions could the GOP have wanted? A Democratic governor who had the job only because of the impeachment of his Democratic predecessor, who gave his opponents a fat target by proposing an income tax increase -- it's the stuff of conservative dreams. Yet Pat Quinn prevailed.

And if Republicans can't win the General Assembly this year, when incumbents are anathema and Democrats weakened by their association with Obama, when can they?

For most Republicans in this country, this is a week to celebrate. But in Illinois, a wake would be more in order.

looniewolf said...

That is an interesting question. If I were denied my right to vote because of a deliberate effort, then I would likely have the right to complain about having had my right to vote denied to me. But as I didn't vote I couldn't complain about politics itself.

The situation is different here; I could have gone to the polls straight from work, but I wanted to have dinner and use the bathroom. By the time I got out of the house, I had probably 20 minutes to find the place; I'd looked for it on Google Maps and thought I knew where it was.

I was wrong. I also had the address, but I got confused and typed "Franklin" instead of "Frederick" into the GPS and went to the wrong location. That ate my margin of error, and I didn't reach the polling place until after 8, when it closed.

I did decide next time I'll go with an absentee ballot. And yes, I do believe that Washington State and Oregon's system is superior, as it allows voters to actually do research on the candidates. Given this is the Information Age, should we really be voting in schools and other locales where we lack internet access to properly examine what the theoretical positions of the candidates are? Or should we allow people to vote from their own homes (or even libraries and the like) after doing some research online to find the candidate that best suits their purposes?

Then again, I also agree with the system that (I believe Washington State) does, with an Open Primary with all political parties on one ballot, and the top two candidates (in terms of popular vote) would be on the general election ballot. (Of course, to throw a bone to the third parties, I could see expanding it to "top three" popular vote candidates.) This could result in two Democrats or two Republicans on the ballot; but this does mean that we will see a more moderate politician in at least one ballot choice (unless you have two sizable extremist populations in the state, each of who go for one candidate).

Hmm. Is talking about theoretical aspects of the political system talking about politics?

Rob H.

Rob said...

the Open Primary is also done in Louisiana, I think. I had my doubts, but now I think it's a good system. It means that the Primary election in August is critically important to candidates. It also gives them two distinct funding periods. And it weakens the power of a political party to anoint a candidate.

But I don't think you have to forego politics discussions. That's not the point of that meme. Rather, its point is to quiet whiners who have never voted. Discussing politics is about how we change what's wrong; a plan to vote.

And, yeah, perma-absentee yourself. Then you become your own polling place.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Rob H.,

If you don't feel you can discuss real-world politics, perhaps you would care to discuss the political implications and rammifications of the 20+-year border war between the Cardassian Union and the United Federation of planets, in the international political arena and also both the internal politics of the Cardassian Union and the Federation, plus the 3-year shaky armistice before a formal peace treaty, and the effects and implications leading into the Dominion War, and how it would effect Federation-Cardassian relations after the end of the Dominion War? (See this rough overview for more detail.)

LarryHart said...


I was wrong. I also had the address, but I got confused and typed "Franklin" instead of "Frederick" into the GPS and went to the wrong location.


I can totally relate to that one. More than 30 years ago (gulp!), when I was in high school, this totally gorgeous girl in my history class decided to have a study session at her house. Even though she didn't know me from Adam, I naturally said I would attend and was given her street address--about as far on the other side of town as possible in the suburb of Evanston.

The internet wasn't even a twinkle in anyone's eye yet. Armed only with a bicycle and my memory of a paper map, I headed for where I believed her house to be. But by confusing "Prospect" and "Princeton" streets, I almost missed out entirely. Only a fortuitous sighting of a water tower across a major street--and intelligence enough to realize ("Hey, that's still Evanston over there!") eventually led me to the correct destination.


Then again, I also agree with the system that (I believe Washington State) does, with an Open Primary with all political parties on one ballot, and the top two candidates (in terms of popular vote) would be on the general election ballot. (Of course, to throw a bone to the third parties, I could see expanding it to "top three" popular vote candidates.) This could result in two Democrats or two Republicans on the ballot; but this does mean that we will see a more moderate politician in at least one ballot choice (unless you have two sizable extremist populations in the state, each of who go for one candidate).


I'm sorry, I have the same problem with this as I do with the scheme that says college football teams should be ranked together, and then a championship game played between the TOP TWO teams. Why is "top two" magical? If there's a good system of ranking the teams (or candidates) ahead of time, then the TOP ONE should be the winner, full stop. Why is it universally assumed that the SECOND PLACE winner has as much right to the title as the top team (or candidate) does?

I have a bit more liking for "instant run-off", where the last place candidate is dropped and then anyone who voted for him gets their next choice applied to the others, until one candidate has a majority. I still have to say though that I'm not sure there's anything more inherently rational about a system that DROPS the LOWEST vote-getter out of a field of many compared to our current system that REWARDS the HIGHEST vote-getter out of a field of many.

rewinn said...

@Rob H

If
1. Money is speech, and
2. Voting is speech,
then
3. Voting is money and
4. We may extend you credit against the next election ... but at what rate ;-)

===

Here in Washington State, my sister told me proudly that my niece cast her first ballot at the kitchen table, taking TWO HOURS to puzzle over the many issues presented. Imagine doing that in a polling booth!

My only complaint with the system is that the ballot should have had prepaid envelopes. If Congresscritters get franking privileges any time they want, voters should get them once or twice a year.

====

Some have whined that Washington's mail-in system is "postmarked election day" which means ballots dribble in over time, and a close race may not be decided for 3 days or more. I say "tough nuts!" it's better to have a slow election with maximum participation, than to have quick counting.

====

Mail-in ballots are on paper, and when in doubt, the voter is contacted to see whether the voter actually cast a ballot. It's inherently more trustworthy than the Rube Goldberg electronic voting systems we used up until 2008 (I was a polling inspector for years, and the electronic devices just kept getting shakier as they discovered new ways they could screw up ....).

====

While I would definitely prefer some sort of ranked/instant runoff voting, the "Top Two" system works well and is popular with the voters. It's amusing to see the Parties equally upset about it. I suppose there's still a little room for bipartisanship left!

We did have a couple of uniparty races (both Top Two GOP or Dem) but so what? A party that comes in 3rd in the primary isn't gonna win in the general, so why not let the voters pick from different flavors of the party the district overwhelmingly prefers?

I have no sympathy for the 3rd parties (Greens, Libertarians or whatever) that insist on a spoiler role in the general election. It's time to grow up and realize that if they mount a challenge in the primary, they may win a spot in the general. I'm not fond of the Tea Party, and the corporatist roots of its origin are unmistakable, but it's been pretty successful as insurgent movements go. If Miller/O'Donnell/Angle weren't sleazy/wacky/insane, they'd be "Senator Teaparty" come January.

Robert said...

First, seems that I'm able to log in again, so I don't need to use the Looniewolf account.

Second, Olbermann's exile from MSNBC has ended. Part of me almost wonders if it was a big publicity grab to try and get more liberals listening to Olberman. But hey, I'm a cynic at heart so....

Rob H.

netsettler said...

@rewinn - Thanks for responding. As noted in my article On the Privacy of Political Campaign Contributions, though, I don't see how anyone thinks him contributing what amounts to pocket change to these candidates will bias him. Why not prevent him from voting? Might that not bias him, too? I doubt either will. Better Olbermann should get out a sense of wanting to do something by making a modest contribution than ending up frustrated he doesn't get ordinary rights. But, moreover, better no one is allowed to have their employer tell them how to vote or who to contribute to.

A while back, I suggested we should just make the Supreme Court a 3/3/3 split, with 3 conservatives and 3 moderates and 3 liberals. That would have the virtue that, like with most of the rest of the Constitution, instead of asking people to be without passion, we'd have ordinary people (passion and all) and then checks and balances, not a requirement of selfless virtue, keeping them in line. It's too hard to ask people to be superhuman automatons, and it's too easy for them to cheat. Just look at the Supreme Court.

@Robert - I've heard it suggested it was some internal test of wills between Olbermann and his boss. The boss apologized, which I guess means Keith won. As well he should. I don't know except from rumors but it's the only story that makes any sense. See my article MSNBC Ethical Theatre 2010 to see why I think the other stories don't hold any water.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Netsettler, I'm afraid trying to set the Supreme Court up 3/3/3 will be like herding cats. What happens if one or more justices decide to drift in a different ideological direction? Kick them off the bench? How much drift could you tolerate? What are the benchmarks for 'liberal', 'conservative', etc.? Fairly middle of the road Republican conservatives look like Mussolini to a Tea-Partier, and the flip side for liberals. Interesting thought experiment, but there's still no way to legislate it.

liere: Used in rural Italy as barter for TP, once the lira collapsed.

TheMadLibrarian

Robert said...

Posted without commentary: a poll from Politico concerning what Independents who voted for Republican candidates want those candidates to do. Well, okay. Maybe one comment: I think a lot of those Independent voters are going to be disappointed over the next two years.

Rob H.