Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Singularitarians & Secessionists - Techno-Tubes & Uplift

I really do like these mad, transcendentalist singularity guys -- who literally believe that the sky's the limit…

... that we are approaching a Technological Singularity: an approaching time when humanity may move, dramatically and decisively, to a higher state of awareness or being. Only, instead of achieving this transcendence through meditation, good works or nobility of spirit, the idea is that we may use an accelerating cycle of education, creativity and computer-mediated knowledge to achieve intelligent mastery over both the environment and our own primitive drives.

Read more in my online article: Singularities and Nightmares: Extremes of Optimism and Pessimism about the Human Future.

Alas for their simple, Moore's Law extrapolations, which posit that we are on the verge of developing Artificial Intelligence which will soon exceed the capacity of the human brain -- recent neuroscience research shows that this task may be far more difficult than expected:

"The brain's overall complexity is almost beyond belief. One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor -- with both memory-storage and information-processing elements - than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may  contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth," according to Stanford University researcher Stephen Smith.

KurzweilSingularityCoverClearly, intracellular processing plays some role, as I forecast in 1989, in EARTH. Heck, even a factor of ten plays hob with those who think it will be trivial to duplicate and transcend the power of the human brain.

Oh, well.

==Synchronicity and Singularity==

How's this for synchronicity? Watch Charlie Kam on the singularity: "I am the very model of a singularitarian
I'm combination Transhuman, Immortalist, Extropian.
Aggressively I'm changing all my body's biochemistry, because my body's heritage is obsolete genetically…
I'll try to improve these patterns with optimal biology.
I'll expand my mental faculties by merging with technology….
I am the very model of a Singularitatian…"

While we're on the subject of Uplift, I am often asked why I don't depict uplifted octopi, or other cephalopoids, the intellectual giants of the invertebrate kingdom.  Well, I do depict a pretty smart 'ps in my next novel, EXISTENCE.  But they really are the aliens among us.  For example, take this:

Octopuses have large nervous systems, centered around relatively large brains. But more than half of their 500 million neurons are found in the arms themselves, Godfrey-Smith said. This raises the question of whether the arms have something like minds of their own. Though the question is controversial, there is some observational evidence indicating that it could be so, he said. When an octopus is in an unfamiliar tank with food in the middle, some arms seem to crowd into the corner seeking safety while others seem to pull the animal toward the food, Godfrey Smith explained, as if the creature is literally of two minds about the situation.”

Our last common ancestor reaches back to the dim depths of time, 500 million to 600 million years ago. That means octopus intelligence likely evolved entirely separately and could be very different from that of vertebrates.

===About our long-term survival

See a fascinating interview of Rebecca D. Costa regarding her new book: Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction. Her appraisal of “super-memes” or mental habits that prevent us from perceiving or negotiating solutions to problems, is most enlightening.

Armageddon ScienceHow many ways could Earth be destroyed? In his book, Armageddon Science: the Science of Mass Destruction, Brian Clegg catalogs real and theoretical threats to our planet. The most likely in his view: nuclear weapons, cyberterrorism and natural disasters.

My home state: What is the future of California? California Dreams asks you to imagine the future: what will a day in your life look like in Futuristic California. Submit a video.

“Top Ten reasons to expect the next ten years to be more exciting than the last.” Michael Vassar touches upon issues such as DNA sequencing, regenerative medicine, ubiquitous sensing, cloud computing, augmented reality...and political re-organization.

Delivering food & freight by a series of tubes - sounds like vacuum tubes of drive-through bank tellers, but it would work via induction motors & intelligent software. This Futurama 'pipe' dream would cut carbon emissions and lessen our dependence on truck deliveries, which makes our cities fragile. Don't tell me this idea sucks.

= Secessionism is... "patriotic"? or hypocrisy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - At South Carolina's Secession Gala, men in frock coats and militia uniforms and women in hoopskirts will sip mint juleps as a band called Unreconstructed plays "Dixie." In Georgia, they will re-enact the state's 1861 secession convention. And Alabama will hold a mock swearing-in of Confederate President Jefferson Davis…._

PAST-civil-war…who, just three years before that, gave a famous speech demanding that all soldiers and citizens hold to their vows to the United States, right or wrong, through thick or thin, as their paramount, sacred duty. Yet, soon, in a snit over their side losing an election - nothing more - the southern aristocracy hurled their neighbors into a hopeless conflagration that despoiled their region for generations. Why?

We are told by these modern secession-romantics that “it was never about slavery but state's rights.” So?  Name the crime that had been committed against their states' rights?  Demand that they cite one.

Even one.

Even the secession declarations do not cite any specific grievances, because there were none! There had been no time for even a single action to have been taken, by Congress, or abolitionists, or an Abraham Lincoln who was not even yet president. When you break a solemn oath - without having been harmed a scintilla… or once even having tried to negotiate with your countrymen… then you have no excuses.  You are simply a traitor.

Oh, by the way, actually read the Declaration of Secession.  It repeatedly and relentlessly and openly cites slavery as the core thing that they are fighting to defend. "Slave" is present 20 times.

I have said it before.  I will no longer let any good old boy, who fantasizes about going back in time and riding with Nathan Bedford Forest, preach to me about patriotism.

Meanwhile, Republican whip Eric Cantor has launched an attack on that most dastardly bastion of anti-american subversion...the National Science Foundation.  With the abandonment of patriotism and fiscal responsibility and 9/11 as rallying cries, it seems that the neocons are left with just two themes. Keep heaping largesse on the rich.  And hatred of smartypants

...and finally...

A Missouri deputy might think twice the next time he tries to arrest a person on bogus charges. The last time he did so, the arrest was caught on a hidden camera in the arrestee's sunglasses.”

Carlos Miller's Photography Is Not A Crime site tracks these types of cases on a daily basis. 

99 comments:

Rob said...

That last item makes me think of Luke 12:3 and Ecclesiastes 10:20 which suggests that the ideal of openness is very, very old and its motivations stem from a religious mode of thought.

Robert said...

Dirk Tiede of the webcomic Paradigm Shift posted this link of some absolutely spectacular photographs taken from the International Space Station. Looking at these pictures... all I can think of is what the Apollo astronauts and the astronauts of Mercury and Gemini must have thought when flying above the Earth, looking at the spectacular beauty of a blue bauble hanging in the black void of space.

It also makes me feel we should do everything possible to ensure that SpaceX succeeds in its efforts to have human-capable space flight sooner rather than later... and then I think the tax payers should pay to send each and every single politician into space. Not to keep them there, mind you. But so that they can look out into the darkness of space... and look down at this beautiful gorgeous planet we call home.

You do this, and I think few of the politicians in Congress would sneer at policies to protect the environment... and arms control, as well. Perhaps we should send the richer businessmen into space as well. I would hope that those who came back would have their eyes opened... and realize that their practices need to be sustainable so that this jewel we live on is not despoiled.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Tim H. said...

The tube delivery link seems busted, but it seems like 4"X 4" pallet would be replaced by a cylindrical cargo container, with a RFID chip so the system knows where it's supposed to go, probably want it to work in a vacuum, for longer routes and it should be truck-loadable, since the system will likely be city to city at first. Sounds like it could cut fossil fuel use, unless electric power is coming from coal, Jerry Pournelle's idea for stimulus by constructing nuclear power plants might complement the tube transport idea nicely.

David Brin said...

One from Charles Stross (author of science fiction's second best blog...):

A 70-millisecond power failure in a single factory has caused a 7.5%
drop in global flash memory production for the next several months.

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/12/interdependency.html

john said...

Secessionists have a well funded propaganda machine at their back. Since repeal of the fairness doctrines our airwaves have become a 24/7 study in the exploitation of human morality heuristics by well funded interests intent on convincing the ignorant that everything since the Renaissance has been a communist plot.

Until a systemic balance for this rot is willed into existence the US and particularly arts and science funding will continue to suffer.

Robert said...

I have to wonder; has anyone created an Armageddon-type story based on what would happen to society should another Carrington event occur? Just curious; it might make for an interesting novel.

Rob H.

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

David,

Let's also not forget the reason the Secessionists did not play up states' rights is because they had spent the previous decade supporting the federal government AGAINST states through the Fugitive Slave Act, which made federal government officials active partners with slaveholders in tracking down and capturing slaves who had escaped to the Northern States, many of which had laws that would have protected those slaves. So state laws were overruled or pre-empted by the federal government under that Act.

Stefan Jones said...

While it's not up to me, the response I'd like to see to those secession sesquicentennial celebrations is:

For crowds of African Americans to crash the party, dressed in filthy overalls and straw hats . . . . and chains. No chants, no shouting, no signs. Just be there, visible, unignorable, and unforgettable.

The aim, of course, would be to ruin the mood of feel-good self-congratulatory defiance and SHAME the revisionists.

They deserve nothing but contempt and derision.

Tony Fisk said...

has anyone created an Armageddon-type story based on what would happen to society should another Carrington event occur?

I suspect I read the same New Scientist article you did! I've toyed with the idea (which is all I tend to do with such things, alas)

In my head, the opening goes something like:

"Shit!"
Few noticed the exact moment when it came. The world ended not with a bang (although there were an isolated few), or even a whimper. More of a long, drawn-out *phut*!
Ironically, the people who were the most exposed to the cause were, initially, the least affected. So it was that Tabitha Robson, enjoying the afternoon sunshine while lolling on the University lawn and (supposedly) reviewing her lecture notes, experienced the end with just a mild annoyance that her phone had stopped working.


...and goes on to tell of the increasingly desparate (and inspired) responses of a small group of people as they realise that the infrastructures on which they rely are going though a massive breakdown in slow-motion.

Nice (ironic) tee-shirt quote from New Matilda:

"How can a society truly be called civilised if annoying people are allowed to remain free?"

Ian said...

Two thoughts re. secessionists.

1. I wonder how the southerners would feel if northerners decided to celebrate THEIR heritage with rapturous re-enactments of the Sherman's March to the Sea and the Burning of Atlanta.

2. Not only did the various declarations of secession focus overwhelmingly on slavery, so did the multiple last minute attempts to appease the south and keep them in the Union.

See. for example, the proposed Crittenden Compromise.

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

Brian Clegg said...

Thanks for the reference to my book.

I find it hilarious the way the singularitarians use the increase in speed of travel as an example of exponential growth.

They take us from walking, to horse, to train, to car, to plane, to spacecraft with increasingly narrow timespans. But they seem to miss that there has been no increase in the last 40 years, and that for real people it only went as far as plane, then to Concorde, but since then has dropped back to less than half that maximum.

As you say, simplistic indeed.

Tony Fisk said...

Simplistic, yes.

..and yet we now communicate across oceans...

Maybe the North could celebrate by proclaiming all the stuff they won't have to shoulder the debt for? (Plus, they'd currently be able to welcome Robert E. Lee into their camp!)

I'm sure Stewart et. al could come up with something.

David Brin said...

Mitchell great point about the fugitive slave act.

Ian, Lincoln would have sold out abolitionism to hold the union together. True! Why? Because had the civil war waited another 10 years,, the south would have folded up like a house of cards. Secession happened in 1861 because the southern oligarchs could see the writing on the wall.

Do YOU see any northerners glorifying Sherman? ALL of the aggressive nastiness is coming from one side. And it ain't blue

I don't mind re-enactors. I love what they did for Turner in GETTYSBERG. I do not mind recalling the courage and fighting sumbitch tenacity of confederate soldiers. They were freaking tough sumbitches, all right and that's fine.

Their generals are WAY over-rated... it was an era when mass-armies were new, communications awful, and HUGE advantages accrued to defenders. Both times that Bobby Lee tried to take the offense, or even aggressively defend (his expertise) for more
than a day, he made a wretched hash of things. In that era, keeping an offense together, moving an army forward and keeping it from being torn to shreds at every wing, that took incredible skill, coordination, hundreds of talented subordinates, and genuine generalship.

But that is getting drawn off the main thing I have to say. Which is simply to repeat this.

I will NOT be lectured to about patriotism by men who wish the United States had failed. That is over. I will spit in the eye of the next ol boy who swerves from secession worship and fantasies of helping Stonewall to waving Old Glory in my face.

Patricia Mathews said...

Oops! "
===About our long-term survival
See a fascinating interview of Rebecca D. Costa regarding her new book: Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction. Her appraisal of “supermemes” or mental habits that prevent us from perceiving or negotiating solutions to problems, is most enlightening. "

"Document not found."

John Kurman said...

Carrington II. Not really all that interesting unless you can do a new spin on the post-apocalypse dystopian novel. You know, we've been there so often its really quite boring: starvation, disease, squalor, filth, etc. My summer vacation in Kampuchea.

I had a discussion a few months ago. Set it in Northern hemisphere winter for best effect. 2-3 months electrical outages is optimistic. Probably more like a year without power. THE biggest problem of all would be lack of fresh water. Food-wise, given the JIT food web we have in America at least, surprisingly, city folk might fare better than country folk. For all their talk of "a country boy will survive" few now know how to properly kill, dress, and store meat or can veggies. Anyone with, say, 1830s skills will be in high demand. DBAs, sysops, software engineers not so much - unless they have the right hobby skills. I kind of suspect this story appeals to the self-righteous and the masochistic more than other audience. Nothing new to see here, move along, move along.

gmknobl said...

You CAN get them to recite grievances against states rights but they are all phony when analyzed. Of course, that doesn't stop modern day neocon aristo-snobs from using the same false state's rights arguments as witnessed by Cooky Cucci.

I know my knee-jerk name based attacks are silly and juvenile and I should refrain from using them but sometimes it's so much fun. Cooky Cucci, Shrub, etc. It's a bad habit on my part.

Anyway, as a historian by education (B.A., Virginia Tech) I can tell you quite positively that slavery was the very root cause of the war, without exception. Another popular argument is that economics, or sometimes economic freedom which is code phrase for states rights, are the root cause of the war. But the argument can devolve into a circular one if you aren't careful with a chicken or egg first analogy. I've always argued that since the economy of the southern states was based largely on slavery and that since it was assumed that the north winning the war would have meant abolishing slavery, the southern aristocrats fought to stop this. It was the basis of their livelihood after all. This is the same reason they fought to keep it when the Union was formed against the British. Thus slavery was again the root cause.

The other side always say "non-sense!" They then claim that the north wanted to interfere with the states right to ship between states. Of course, those goods were created in part or whole by the use of slave labor thus we're back to slavery again. They then argue that no, it was the right that was violated and the states were standing on principle. To which I reply that if your principle involves using slaves it was immoral and should have been outlawed anyway. And as the federal government argued, any interstate commerce has to be regulated by the federal government. The governments of the southern states and the federal government argued over states rights but the basis of the activity ALWAYS came back to slavery.

It is not enjoyable living in a state (Virginia) which at times take leading positions on human rights and support of progressive ideals of education - early childhood through higher - supporting farmers and extension then whiplashes back to the gilded age or to slavery based southern aristocracy ways of thinking and cuts the heart out of those same things it was progressive on earlier, all in favor of the rich aristocrats.

There is a real cultural and I would say moral divide in my state now. One side wants to improve humanity and the other wants to take what they can for themselves, robbing people and the governments to do so. What frustrates me is the mass of people, many undereducated and many with Ph.D.s that can't see that such medieval, Machiavellian, royalty-like actions are done with the aim of greed as their end. They get distracted by the trees and can't see the forest. They'll argue states rights without ever acknowledging that no one had the right to base actions in support of slavery. No one has the right to grab what they can for themselves if it actively harms others, such as the rich NOT getting taxed more than me. They won't acknowledge that trickle down doesn't work because of greed and human nature. Nor will they agree that the more people have the same amount of money the more gets put into the economy - a basic economic fact that Keynes knew very well. Cognitive dissonance exists strongly with these people and yet many of them have higher degrees.

What a shame.

gmknobl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gmknobl said...

Sorry for the multiple post. I have yet to figure out how this thing acts when it apparently rejects your post then puts it up anyway.

And Dr. Brin, please don't spit in anyone's face. You need your spit more than the effort it would take to put it out there.

It takes far less effort to aim for the shoe.

Another note: Virginia Tech, where I work, takes pride in defending the rights of individuals no matter what their ethic heritage, sexual orientation, sex or anything else. It is because of this progressive ideal that we've been attacked by the current Virginia government. This last state election has left many of us down in the dumps. My knee jerk reaction is that the people that voted for the current administration are either ignorant, have something to gain for themselves, are fools or some combination of those three. And yet I know that this way of thinking is also dangerous and to easily dehumanizes people. So, I must be wary and try not to let lower emotions get in the way of reason lest I become like them.

Ahcuah said...

For the Watchman's Rattle article, try this.

Stuart said...

Here's the view from the Deep South:

There's a city/country split in how Confederacy worship is perceived in Alabama. In the country, it's common to see the rebel flag flown from houses and trucks, but urbanites and suburbanites usually view it as an embarrassing lower class icon.

However, even town and city dwellers often defend the Confederacy while self consciously steering wide of racial issues. Usually they take a tea partyesque stance, claiming the Civil War was about states rights and the tenth amendment.

I don't buy it at all.

First, as you guys mentioned, I can't get them to nail down a specific state's right that they want but can't have. Then I mention the "state rights" of legal medicinal marijuana in California and gay marriage in Massachusetts. They grudgingly admit those are state rights, while making it clear those aren't the rights they mean.

I suspect that, without admitting it even to themselves, they're talking about the right to police the demographics of your own lunch counter, and they resent the intrusion of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Now for the devil's advocacy.

Racism among white Southerners doesn't arise spontaneously from "ignorance." It's usually rooted in a personal experience of being treated rudely by a black person who was raised to resent whites. The worst abuses of the Civil Rights era are within living memory here, and bad blood abounds. Being a nice person yourself guarantees no protection.

Also, Alabama is about 1/4 black, while California is about 1/14. If you want to draw comparisons between the character of the South and that of the West Coast, you must compare Southern racism against blacks to West Coast racism against Hispanics.

Aside from that, I think a lot of non-racist Southerners feel sympathy for the Confederacy because Southerners are automatically looked down upon in other parts of the country, so they respond by cleaving more tightly to the Southern identity and those who share it.

I've noticed this effect myself. After all, here I am defending fellow Alabamians, most of whom I disagree with.

Character attacks against "Southerners" and "The South" radicalize moderates.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Stuard said...

Character attacks against "Southerners" and "The South" radicalize moderates.

Character attacks against anyone radicalize moderates.

rewinn said...

@Rob - thanks for the verses in support of wikileaks - although a compare/contrast may be illuminating ...

Luke 12:3
"What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs."


Ecclesiastes 10:20
"Do not revile the king even in your thoughts,
or curse the rich in your bedroom,
because a bird in the sky may carry your words,
and a bird on the wing may report what you say."


Let us hope we are tending toward more of the former, and less of the latter!


@Stuart
Perhaps Secessionists, like everyone else, enjoys feeling picked on? It gives one such a BRACING feeling of moral superiority?

@All
More proof, were any needed, that our major news channels systematically misinforms:

* Voters Say Election Full of Misleading and False Information
by WorldPublicOpinion.org

*The Lies That Fox News Viewers Believe (citing a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll
* Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War"
I found these at Alternet but posted each separately to avoid Alternet's biases (if any).

John Kurman said...

In my less logical moments, I've often thought that the South has always been a ball and chain on America. And that, had we just let them secede, the effect would have been like dropping an anvil out of a hot air ballon - we in the North would be a hundred years ahead right now. Of course, as I said, those are moments of non-clarity. Though it is true chattel slavery made the South retarded (in its original meaning, not disparaging) technologically, and just as well, considering. But the North and South enjoyed a symbiosis, and we need to recognize that the North indirectly enjoyed the economic fruits of slavery. For example, New England textile mills needed cotton. There was no way the South would have been let loose. But still... that would be a more interesting story than Carrington II.

Abilard said...

gmknobl wrote - "The governments of the southern states and the federal government argued over states rights but the basis of the activity ALWAYS came back to slavery."

I have tried to make such arguments with a fellow Virginian of yours and a re-enactor for a couple of years now. The deluge of minutia about tariffs that this prompts is usually enough to dissuade me from continuing the conversations.

I am most sympathetic to the southern perspective in two areas. One, I think the argument that the states had a right to secede is fairly solid. First, they chose the word state knowing full well its assertion of sovereignty (note that the Federal government turned over John Brown to Virginia for treason against that state, and also that we used to say the United States are and not is). Second, New Englanders also thought they had the right to secede and contemplated doing so early in the 19th century. So on.

The other area where I sympathize has to do with the dreadful experience of war (though the South brought it on itself). As it happens, GMKnobl, during the Civil War the valley I am from (the Ohio River valley) was directly at war with yours (the New River Valley) through the person of General Crook who led the 36th Ohio Volunteers pillaging through your home region. Most of my ancestors stayed in Ohio mining coal and working iron, but if yours were in the New River Valley at the time I wonder if they could have regarded the soldiers taking their food and killing their relatives through such idealistic eyes.

Mark P said...

I'm from the deep South and I have nothing but contempt for the modern-day defenders of the indefensible. For the aristocrats who plunged the nation into the worst war in its history, I have two feelings, hated and contempt. There is nothing - nothing - good to say about secession, the Confederacy or the men who started the Civil War. I am sure there were many good men who became soldiers who did not own slaves, but they fought in the service of an evil cause. I think a time of remembrance is called for, but it should be a time of shame and repentance, not a celebration.

Some people think we're too ready to call something racism today, but I disagree. We are too hesitant to call it out for what it is.

Rob said...

@rewinn, hardly in support of wikileaks. The passages merely point out that the ideal of openness, connected to a warning to criminals, is old.

ell said...

Tin H:

Someone will figure out how to hijack goods from the tube.

ell said...

Rob H.: Re: Carrington/EMP

"One Second After" by William R. Forstchen. A right-wing viewpoint but likely to be correct in many aspects.

Tacitus said...

To continue for a moment the prior longevity thread.

Word today of the passing of "Bullet Bob" Feller at age 92. He was signed to a professional contract at age 17, supposedly for a dollar and an autographed baseball. He never played a day in the minors, moving straight to the Cleveland Indians where he dominated for two decades minus a four year hitch in the service (he was the first major leaguer to enlist).

Legend has it, and lets not let pesky facts entirely mess up a good legend, that he threw the fasted pitch ever clocked in a major league game.

He continued to throw out the first pitch of spring training for Cleveland decades after his retirement AND he pitched in the 2009 Hall of Fame Old Timers game at Cooperstown. At age 90.

I believe I mentioned that I have shaken the hand that threw the fastest pitch ever.

Immortals? They already walk among us.

Tacitus

Tony Fisk said...

Carrington is one of the higher probability end of world scenarios. It's worth a cautionary tale. (and a couple of watchdog spacecraft stationed near L1 so we get enough warning to shut down the power grid)

Tony Fisk said...

...and maybe keep a few more transformers in mothballs

Ilithi Dragon said...

Re longevity:

I've mentioned it before as being on my Christmas wishlist, and I'll mention it again: The Neural Impulse Actuator is a first-generation game controller by OCZ that literally scans your brainwaves as the control input method. You wear it like a headband, and you can control a game with your thoughts.

Now, as a first-gen device, it is limited (mostly detects brainwave patterns associated with signals to blink and similar actions), but it's still a first-gen device in a tech field that will one day lead to puddle-jumper-style control interfaces, as well as super-PDA smartphone implants al a Elizabeth Moon's "Vatta's War" series. In a couple years, we may well see headband smartphone accessories that take advantage of this technology.

The tech will obviously have massive impacts of its own, but will also greatly assist the implementation of increased longevity, allowing us to more easily supplement our biological memory capacity with computer memory.

And, if I'm not mistaken, isn't this a first step towards tech predicted by our dear host in Earth?

ArcaneDesigns said...

So… I have an open question for the secession discussion.

Suppose the Constitutional Convention had turned out differently and the Southern states didn't originally join the United States. Instead, imagine that they formed their own country.

Would you find it acceptable for the North to invade the Southern colonies to topple their institution of slavery?

(Either at the formation of these countries, or some time later on.)

Ilithi Dragon said...

That is a sticky question and would depend on how susceptible the southern states would have been to abolishing slavery over time.

Honestly, I would support a war to end slavery, if all other options had been thoroughly exhausted.

Tony Fisk said...

Whatever the reason, invasion is an option of last resort. (for there should be plenty of other options)

OT: would anyone care to go planet hunting?

Robert said...

That depends on two things. First, did the South in that alternative setting fight in the War for Independence? If not (because they remained an English Colony) then it's Great Britain telling them to stop... and I suspect having learned the lessons from the North, they'd make sure the South can't just break away. Second, if they did but they refused to join the United States afterward, they'd have remained separate little nation-states that likely wouldn't trust each other. Further, they'd not have had the generals they did because none of them would have build a military academy for everyone else to use.

If the South had remained separate, it would have remained weak and would have been surrounded and isolated by the Northern States of America and by Great Britain. Eventually they would have given up on slavery on their own, just so they could start trading with their neighbors.

Rob H.

John Kurman said...

ArcaneD,

Would I personally find it acceptable? Of course. In fact, I'd have carted everything not nailed down back up North. I'd have cut down every tree, uprooted every useful plant, dug up every valuable mineral, every last seam of coal, herded or slaughtered all their animals, all their cattle, sheep, goats, pigs. And then I'd have burned everything down to the ground. Was that..? Was that a bit too much? My inner viking can never tell.

The scenario of a split at the Constitutional convention, though, would most likely come from the northern states objecting to the compromise. The southern states say "fine with us, buh bye". Doubtful the convention would have continued, and we'd have perhaps three or four nations. But let's say you end up with North and South. This probably means a delay in the big cotton plantations, no big push into the Alabama/Mississippi territories for big plantation land. Cotton farming sticks to the coast. (Eli Whitney doesn't visit Virginia, sees no need to invent the cotton gin. Some blacksmith finally does, but perhaps ten years later. The South confined to east of the Mississippi and slow to reach it. Without the demand for the mass production on the big plantations, ironically, chattel slavery does not grow as fast. It is well known that culturally there is more than one South, and the more brutish slave south expanded with the big plantations. That version is slow to grow in this scenario. I suspect the Northern Union would not slow down one wit. Population quickly expands into the Midwest. The Louisiana purchase proceeds as scheduled. (Napolean still screws the Spanish).
Texas, Arkansas, Lousiana are all Northern Union. Possibly Kentucky and even Virginia contemplate joining the Union, given the obvious advanced technology and prosperity to the North. The South withered, spavined, oligarchical, possibly monarchical probably ends up taking the Latin American petty dictatorship route.

David Brin said...

In fact the Civil War was very civil in many ways. Battlefield truces to remove the wounded were routine. The "horrific" Sherman march through Georgia mostly left un-burnt every farm that had zero or only a few slaves. They did grab everything that they could eat. But compare that to the 30years war in Germany or the burning executed by mongols or nazis.

Stuart, there are things southerners COULD be proud of. Every state but So.Carolinia sent regiments to fight on the Union side. Most had many counties where the stars and stripes kept flying for the entire war and where confederate slave-o-crat troops never dared to tread. Heck, I don't mind glorification of southern military prowess against great odds -- though as I said above, the era made things very easy for Lee's kind of "genius" at aggressive defense and very hard for Grant's mission of steady offense. Grant had the harder job and is deeply under-rated.

But no, I will not accept that I am doing "character attacks" against southerners. I am (among millions) an injured party, here. Blue America pays extra taxes and Red america gets net flow of federal money, yet they screech about high taxes that THEY don't pay!

Blue America is the terror target, yet they bravely want to get on with life while Red America Shrieks endlessly in "terror panic!!!!!"

Our patriotism and courage and manhood are routinely insulted. And every type of intellectual accomplishment, from teaching to law to science to civil service is derided as somehow vile.

John letting the south "go" would have had many salutary effects. But it would have made North America another damned Europe. Balkanized, divided, bickering, and crisscrossed with militarized borders. Preventing that - and letting America become a continental power with a tiny army and vast confidence... that alone was worth fighting for.

Lemme get this straight. I LOVe those Red Neck Comedy guys. Even Larry the Cable Guy. Their humor is like Yiddish humor, self-debrecating and ironic. That is, till you finally realize, they really DO mean to imply that being a dumbass is better than going to college! It is not a feigned thing. It is propaganda.

Dang John, that is a heckuva parallel reality story. But don't forget, Virginia would have been in the Union from the start. Which means Kentucky & Tennessee later would have joined.

Ian said...

RE, the tube idea.

There's a similar proposal using autonomous robots that navigate throufh the existing storm water drain system.

That would appear to have a couple of potential advantages over the tube proposal.

Firstly, it'd be potentially a lot cheaper to build - no need for new infrastructure beyond some navigational aids.

It'd also be more fault tolerant - one defective robot isn't going to shut down the whole system like, say, a defective induction motor on a major trunk route.

The major drawback, of course, is it'd only operate in major cities and the individual capsules would probably need to be smaller.

I think there's even an alternative proposal that'd use robots climbing along overhead powerlines, which woudl solve any energy storage problems and give them a wider range.

Ian said...

"A 70-millisecond power failure in a single factory has caused a 7.5%
drop in global flash memory production for the next several months."

Imagine a smart technically and economically sophisticated terrorist group for a moment.

Think of the economic damage you coudl do to the US by, for example, bombing several major polysilicon plants and simultaneously assassinating, say, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs.

I know they all have security but I doubt it's on par with the President's.

Tony Fisk said...

... and remember to blow up a serum lab in Melbourne before you release all those rattlesnakes...

baling: sheep jewellery (just for ewes!)

Anonymous said...

“Balkanized, divided, bickering”? I think we’re already there! I see the American South as a human reality that the modern progressive mind is too terrified to face: the reality that we are tribal animals whose reptilian brains still largely rule us. Most of human history is a history of tribalism, and the idea that we have, in last few decades, turned the corner on it seems rather delusional. It’s very easy to talk a good game against racism when you live safely within tribal borders, but it’s another matter entirely when you are threatened in a very visceral way every day by someone’s artificially engineered “diversity”. Tribalism is not something to toy with, or to arrogantly dismiss, as even the briefest acquaintance with human history should make obvious. Tribalism is deeply rooted in us, and has a way of exploding into violence if you push one tribe too far.

Ian said...

It's also worth remembering who fired the first shot in the American civil war.

The war didn't start becasue the southern states chose to secede, it started because they repudiated their share of the national debt while attempting to cease Federal government property without compensation.

Even before Lincoln's inauguration, buchanan was ordering customs agents, postmasters and other federal personnel in the southern states to resist the seizure of federal property by force, if necessary.

Stefan Jones said...

RE disaster scenarios:

I would dearly love to see a stimulus bill / industrial revitalization act designed to harden our power and communication grid.

We'll need to do this anyway, to accommodate remote wind farms and deal with the loads on the system from electric cars; hardening the system would almost be an afterthought.

I'd also like to see those proposed mini-nuclear plants deployed adjacent to petroleum refineries, fertilizer plants, and government centers.

Abilard said...

Salon - Is Science Fiction Dying?

Very sad. All because our authors spend their time blogging instead of writing books.

Ilithi Dragon said...

So true, Abilard, so true...

Perhaps we could revitalize the genre by spurring authors to write books in blog updates?

Marrime: Okay, now captcha is making fun of my nonexistent love life...

Robert said...

Science Fiction isn't dying. It's moving to other technological venues, like webcomics. =^-^=

Rob H.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Nooo! The fact that science fiction is dying is the accepted truth! Shun the unbeliever! Shuuuuuunnnnn!

Matt said...

Re: Tubes

Why do we need to build a pipeline infrastructure when we already have a railroad infrastructure that reaches almost everywhere?

Train engines have gotten very efficient, likely nearly as efficient as anything you would have to use to push the cargo containers down the tubes, and even if we did build the pipelines, we wouldn't have gotten rid of the last-mile delivery issues.

I think the source of the problem is similar to the problem with public transportation -- it isn't efficiency, but rather convenience. You can get a big rig to pick up your shipment at your door for not-too-much money. Why take it down to the depot?

Stuart said...

The idea that people from the South are backwards is problematic enough. All my Alabama friends are at least tolerant, and most of them are extremely socially liberal. Yes, the South is politically backwards, but that's partly because people like me and my friends aren't politically represented in our winner-take-all system.

But even worse is the idea that "Southern" is some kind of ideology, and being Southern is the same as being backwards.

For the record, I think the Confederates were gullible fools to go marching to their deaths for a ruling class's "right" to force people to work for free, and I care nothing for their glorious red badge of honor. But when you say "the South", "Southern", and "Southerner", you are necessarily talking about me. Complaining about Southerners and expecting the exceptions not to take offense is exactly like ranting about "the blacks" to a black person.

The enlightenment has allies down here. Don't alienate them!

Abilard said...

"The enlightenment has allies down here. Don't alienate them!"

Can we reconstruct them? ;-)

Stuart said...

Save for The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, all my favorite science fiction books were written in the past 20 years. If there's less of it, it's because standards are higher.

No more of this:

"As you know, Dr. Jenkins, the Vernal Confabulator reverses time with the power of radiation."

Or this:

"Krondarr leapt onto his Space Bleem and galloped toward the Space Citadel where the princess awaited him."

Robert said...

Personally I think that the House of Representatives should operate on a Parliamentary system. Perhaps each state could have a stable of politicians for each party being represented, and let voters vote for which party (and perhaps specific candidates) desired. Then the percentage of vote that goes to each party is utilized to determine the mixture of party politicians sent to Washington for that State. Thus if 20% of the vote in Massachusetts is Republican, then one of its five Reps would be chosen from the Republican stable (with the candidate who garnered the most votes getting his chance in office).

More progressive states could even have a rotation of representatives so that their Reps could continue careers and the like back home - sort of a time share for Reps, with each one selecting a period of time where he or she would go to Washington, and ensuring that each State always has its representation.

This would eliminate the entire gerrymandering situation. (Senators are chosen on a state-wide level in any event.) It also would encourage increased voter turnout; Democrats in heavily-Republican regions would be more likely to vote if they felt their vote meant something, and Republicans in heavily-Democrat regions likewise would be more likely to vote since their vote would be heard.

It also would shift the party system on the Representative side away from the wealthy. Given that these Representatives may eventually run for the Senate, it will eventually influence the Senate away from the teat of the wealthy as well.

Of course, I'm sure I'm forgetting some important things here, so please, I would love to hear some feedback on this idea and on what could be done to polish it. Heck, who knows... maybe it could be recommended as an Amendment; I suspect both parties would enjoy making inroads on the bastions of the other.

Rob H.

Abilard said...

How about this?

"My short-sword, sharp and gleaming was in my right hand; I could have plunged it into his putrid heart before he realized that I was upon him; but as I raised my arm to strike I thought of Tars Tarkas, and, with all my rage, with all my hatred, I could not rob him of that sweet moment for which he had lived and hoped all these long, weary years, and so, instead, I swung my good right fist full upon the point of his jaw."

John Carter may have been long winded, but he was also a good confederate soldier.

David Brin said...

Stuart, you have my sincere apology for group conflation. I generally try for “Red America” because that is more a state of mind than a regional condemnation. Though of course, there are regional aspects.

Indeed the enlightenment has allies down there. During the civil war there were counties and regions into which confederate officials never dared to tread and where Old Glory waved the entire time. Austin and Atlanta are blue-ish festers. And Virginia and N.Carolina voted for Obama. Till now, the truism was that northern immigrants would always be drowned-out or buborned into good ol boy culture. But a time may be coming when this truism reverses.

Stuart said...

No worries! The political atmosphere is pretty Red here. But not everyone is happy with it, and dissenters often have practical reasons to stay that outweigh the ideological reasons to leave.

There are some positive trends, too. Increasing population and urbanization tends to make people more open minded, and I think the internet is giving new generations a more cosmopolitan world view. I don't think my daughter has even encountered racism within her generation yet. To her, some of her friends are merely "brown."

The illiberal atmosphere, however, is probably going to stick around. I was visiting family in Portland once, and watched a local news story about a protester who set up camp in a climbing hammock on the first story ledge of a bank. Police were milling around below him, just keeping the order.

For whatever reason he was up there, I was impressed with how easygoing everyone was. If it had been Birmingham, the police would have shot him down with a beanbag gun before the news team even arrived to mock the hippie.

Jeff B. said...

While there are areas of the country where the "Red America" mindset is more prevalent than others, it can be found everywhere. NW PA, where I live, is virulently "Red," to the point that one even sees the Stars & Bars on pickups and license plates.

Where I work- a Federal facility- is in a very rural area; even though many people attended the numerous high-quality liberal arts schools in the area, the atmosphere is such that I never, ever dare talk politics, except for one person who I consider a "thinking" libertarian-leaning Republican. My eclectic, pragmatist views would quickly find me branded and ostracized as a "Liberal."

It makes for very tough socializing sometimes. In some ways, it's like the stereotypical south, with attitude- lacking the "history" of the South, it seems like many are more aggressive with their opinions...

Tony Fisk said...

Group conflation is a tool of deceit, which gives rise to the observation that 'religion/patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel'

I try to distinguish between conservatives and self-servatives. Similarly we could have southern and confeds (or given the history, might that be 'conned feds'?)

Anonymous said...

From the arXiv:

http://arxiv.org/abs/1012.1995

"The eternal inflation scenario predicts that our observable universe resides inside a single bubble embedded in a vast multiverse, the majority of which is still undergoing super-accelerated expansion. Many of the theories giving rise to eternal inflation predict that we have causal access to collisions with other bubble universes, opening up the possibility that observational cosmology can probe the dynamics of eternal inflation. We present the first observational search for the effects of bubble collisions, using cosmic microwave background data from the WMAP satellite. Using a modular algorithm that is designed to avoid a posteriori selection effects, we find four features on the CMB sky that are consistent with being bubble collisions. If this evidence is corroborated by upcoming data from the Planck satellite, we will be able to gain insight into the possible existence of the multiverse."

Short version: disturbances in the cosmic microwave background radiation appear to show that our universe has been impacted by four other universes.

"Mirror-Image Cells Could Transform Science — or Kill Us All"

Theoretically, a cell could be based on “wrong-handed” molecules. Its biochemistry would work just like ours—DNA to RNA to proteins—but it would be completely incompatible with earthly life, its chiral twin. And now, thanks to recent advances in genomics, cell membrane science, and synthetic biology, an ambitious researcher could go beyond theory and build it from the ground up. The tools are here (well, almost here) to make mirror life from scratch.

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/11/ff_mirrorlife/

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Robert: "and then I think the tax payers should pay to send each and every single politician into space."

I would go further. Once the infrastructure is cheap enough and safe enough, I would build a World's Parliaments House in low orbit, with an inclination high enough that it always passed within sight of each and every nation-state on Earth. The chamber (which could be significantly smaller than comparable chambers on Earth thanks to the greater utility of cubic in zero-gee) would have a cupola like the ISS's but larger, so that the members could not help but look out on the unity of the Earth below.

I would then start a UN fund that paid for each and every parliament in the world to have one session a year (with a quorum of those healthy enough for the trip) in that chamber... or just the new-sworn members, perhaps... to drive it into their hearts who and what they serve. I would make it a ritual for newly sworn chief executives, sometime in their first year of office, as well... that you cannot wield supreme power without having that supreme self-correction that comes from seeing the beauty and fragility of our homeworld.

And if that sight doesn't move them, or shows a different effect than the rest... well, we'll find the psychopaths that much faster.

@Ian: I wonder how the southerners would feel if northerners decided to celebrate THEIR heritage with rapturous re-enactments of the Sherman's March to the Sea and the Burning of Atlanta.

Some would actually get the message... but most would simply use it to play the victim card. Which brings me to...

@Dr. Brin: Lincoln would have sold out abolitionism to hold the union together. True! Why? Because had the civil war waited another 10 years, the south would have folded up like a house of cards.

Which is why, right after my detest of the plantation-aristocrats who actually started the War, I vituperate against the sanctimonious abolitionists (of whom John Brown was the extremist, but a lauded extremist) who insisted, for years and years before the War, on divinely-inspired crusading as the means to end the slavers' cause. It is a mindset well-displayed in the movie Amistad, where one "committed" abolitionist rejects the ultimately-successful strategy of Matthew McConnaghuey's character (arguing on property law grounds)... because it does not make the proper moral argument. He OPENLY states he would rather lose and leave the Africans in bondage than fail to make his propaganda point! And this character was based on very real historical accounts of abolitionist rhetoric, from the 1820's right up to the War.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Robert: "and then I think the tax payers should pay to send each and every single politician into space."

I would go further. Once the infrastructure is cheap enough and safe enough, I would build a World's Parliaments House in low orbit, with an inclination high enough that it always passed within sight of each and every nation-state on Earth. The chamber (which could be significantly smaller than comparable chambers on Earth thanks to the greater utility of cubic in zero-gee) would have a cupola like the ISS's but larger, so that the members could not help but look out on the unity of the Earth below.

I would then start a UN fund that paid for each and every parliament in the world to have one session a year (with a quorum of those healthy enough for the trip) in that chamber... or just the new-sworn members, perhaps... to drive it into their hearts who and what they serve. I would make it a ritual for newly sworn chief executives, sometime in their first year of office, as well... that you cannot wield supreme power without having that supreme self-correction that comes from seeing the beauty and fragility of our homeworld.

And if that sight doesn't move them, or shows a different effect than the rest... well, we'll find the psychopaths that much faster.

@Ian: I wonder how the southerners would feel if northerners decided to celebrate THEIR heritage with rapturous re-enactments of the Sherman's March to the Sea and the Burning of Atlanta.

Some would actually get the message... but most would simply use it to play the victim card. Which brings me to...

@Dr. Brin: Lincoln would have sold out abolitionism to hold the union together. True! Why? Because had the civil war waited another 10 years, the south would have folded up like a house of cards.

Which is why, right after my detest of the plantation-aristocrats who actually started the War, I vituperate against the sanctimonious abolitionists (of whom John Brown was the extremist, but a lauded extremist) who insisted, for years and years before the War, on divinely-inspired crusading as the means to end the slavers' cause. It is a mindset well-displayed in the movie Amistad, where one "committed" abolitionist rejects the ultimately-successful strategy of Matthew McConnaghuey's character (arguing on property law grounds)... because it does not make the proper moral argument. He OPENLY states he would rather lose and leave the Africans in bondage than fail to make his propaganda point! And this character was based on very real historical accounts of abolitionist rhetoric, from the 1820's right up to the War.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Robert: "and then I think the tax payers should pay to send each and every single politician into space."

I would go further. Once the infrastructure is cheap enough and safe enough, I would build a World's Parliaments House in low orbit, with an inclination high enough that it always passed within sight of each and every nation-state on Earth. The chamber (which could be significantly smaller than comparable chambers on Earth thanks to the greater utility of cubic in zero-gee) would have a cupola like the ISS's but larger, so that the members could not help but look out on the unity of the Earth below.

I would then start a UN fund that paid for each and every parliament in the world to have one session a year (with a quorum of those healthy enough for the trip) in that chamber... or just the new-sworn members, perhaps... to drive it into their hearts who and what they serve. I would make it a ritual for newly sworn chief executives, sometime in their first year of office, as well... that you cannot wield supreme power without having that supreme self-correction that comes from seeing the beauty and fragility of our homeworld.

And if that sight doesn't move them, or shows a different effect than the rest... well, we'll find the psychopaths that much faster.

@Ian: I wonder how the southerners would feel if northerners decided to celebrate THEIR heritage with rapturous re-enactments of the Sherman's March to the Sea and the Burning of Atlanta.

Some would actually get the message... but most would simply use it to play the victim card. Which brings me to...

@Dr. Brin: Lincoln would have sold out abolitionism to hold the union together. True! Why? Because had the civil war waited another 10 years, the south would have folded up like a house of cards.

Which is why, right after my detest of the plantation-aristocrats who actually started the War, I vituperate against the sanctimonious abolitionists (of whom John Brown was the extremist, but a lauded extremist) who insisted, for years and years before the War, on divinely-inspired crusading as the means to end the slavers' cause. It is a mindset well-displayed in the movie Amistad, where one "committed" abolitionist rejects the ultimately-successful strategy of Matthew McConnaghuey's character (arguing on property law grounds)... because it does not make the proper moral argument. He OPENLY states he would rather lose and leave the Africans in bondage than fail to make his propaganda point! And this character was based on very real historical accounts of abolitionist rhetoric, from the 1820's right up to the War.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Argh. Sorry about the multipost.

ingen: CAPTCHA implements their new genomics program off the coast of Costa Rica...

David Brin said...

Catfish... very moving proposal to make world leaders SEE the Earth.

----
On my facebook page there is a debate over climate change. Guy said scientists aren't conniving because of a conspiracy for grants... the old tale... but because they pre-selected for a messiah complex! Here's my response:


I'll respond to Thomas B. in careful detail, about a supposed conspiracy of scientists... or pre-selection bias by "messiah complex." Thomas, you speak the talking points with articulate grace. But they are still talking points that come directly from the very same law firms and ad agencies that worked for Big Tobacco. Doesn't that bother you a little?

You claim that 99% of atmospheric scientists are in a climate change cabal - reflexively parroting the same myth (that YOU see through) -because they were
"pre-selected" for activism. Hey, that's a great new talking point. But can you back it up? Even a little? With even one example?

How about James Kasting. I knew him 25 years ago when we both were working for the space program and he was studying Jupiter's climate. Um... are you telling me that he was a "scientist Messiah" then? Huh. I don't recall any bleeding heart rants about the poor Jovians.

Or Dave and Joy Crisp, who came at this from studying the atmospheres of Venus and Mars. In fact, I could name dozens of atmospheres people who have studied climate on TWELVE PLANETS and who only became active in the climate change debate when they saw science being routinely and systematically politicized and debased under the Bush Administration... when the neocon Congress disbanded every single scientific advisory panel that might tell them things they did not want to hear.

Planetary atmospheres folks not enough? How about the "messiah scientists" who across 30 years have transformed the weather report from a 4 hour joke into a 14 day forecast that you plan your vacations around. It is a modern miracle, yet the talking points aim to savage their credibility, portraying them as conspiring, hand-rubbing villains, conniving and cackling to betray their science in order to... win a few grants worth a few thousand dollars.

(Oh, and they sought climate grants during the Bush years, when that was career suicide. Dumbasses!)

David Brin said...

FOLLOWUP:

Um... let's see now. Let's weigh TWO CONSPIRACY THEORIES.

1) 99% of scientists -- TENS OF THOUSANDS of the smartest people in America, many of them in sharp conflict with one another, coming from a culture of intense intellectual honesty -- are conniving in secret to warp public policy, in order to advance a few small grants for a few of them...

or...

2) a few dozen billionaires with coal and gas interests, including the Koch brothers, seven Saudi princes who co-own Fox, and a fanatical media mogul, have donated 100 million$ to "foundations," law firms and ad agencies with excellent track records delaying and obfuscating and impeding science on behalf of Big Tobacco, in order to obfuscate science again, delaying R&D into clean/efficient energy, so that we can stay addicted to the fossil teat a while longer, so the billionaires can make more easy billions.

Gee... I wonder which seems plausible. Except... oh, rats. Every word of #2 is proved, in the public record. So I guess it can't be a "conspiracy" after all.

All right, I admit it. #1 wins by default!

Thomas. As measured by the Pew Foundation and the AAAS, the biggest association of scientists in the world, in 1990 about 30% of american scientists still called themselves republican. Want the most recent number? FIVE percent. Something has happened. Lifelong Republicans don't flee for no reason.

Thomas, dig this. These are the SMARTEST people in the world. By far and away the smartest people in.... the... world.

Sure, intelligence doesn't always mean wisdom. But the talking points artists imply that intelligence automatically MAKES people UNWISE! Are you really going to follow Fox down that road?

Stefan Jones said...

The American fossil fuel industry. Celebrating twenty four years bravely fighting tooth and nail against the profound liberal bias of . . . reality.

Douglas Kral said...

Back in the day when alot of people were (rightly) angry about South Carolina flying a Confederate flag on the state capitol building, the main objection to the flag seemed to be that it was a symbol of slavery, oppression and racism (which it is). However, that was not my objection. My objection to ANY Confederate flag is that it is a flag of TREASON. The people who originally flew that flag were TRAITORS to the United States of America.

David Brin said...

Well, I call the masters traitors. Po' whites who signed up when blue armies marched south... They were lesser sinners.

dupes

And really tough, brave one. Dang could they fight.

Stefan Jones said...

Mike Huckabee, 2007:
"One thing that all of us have a responsibility to do is recognize that climate change is here, it's real. That what we have to do is quit pointing fingers as to who's at fault and recognize that it's all our fault and it's all our responsibility to fix it.

I also support cap and trade of carbon emissions. And I was disappointed that the Senate rejected a carbon counting system to measure the sources of emissions, because that would have been the first and the most important step toward implementing true cap and trade."

Mike Huckabee, 2010:
"I never did support and never would support it - period."

Modern American conservatism demands a complete and consistent orthodoxy that turns its notables into cowards and liars.

Rob said...

It was not unlawful for a State to secede. In fact, I think it's still not unlawful, and I recall being told that in the specific cases of Texas and California, it's specifically lawful under certain circumstances.

I don't recall ever reading that that particular question has ever been settled. These days it would merely be a really stupid idea to secede.

Anonymous said...

Turns out a grant targeted by Eric Cantor's "You Cut" campaign was named by Popular Science as one of the "Brilliant Ten" most worthwhile and notable scientific projects funded by the NSF in 2006.

James, 33, has created tools that simulate collisions more convincingly and faster than ever before. James hopes to enable programmers to manipulate 1,000 objects in the same amount of time it now takes to handle just one or two. That fluency could usher in novel applications that were formerly impractical, such as real-time virtual surgery...

http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2006-07/popscis-fourth-annual-brilliant-10?page=3

Funding for all kinds of U.S. science is now under intense attack.

"While a proposal has been put forth to keep the [Tevatron] machine [at Fermilab] running through FY 2014, the budgetary situation looks increasingly likely to put them out of business, no matter what CERN does. The dysfunctional nature of the US federal budget process means that the laboratory is already several months into FY 2011, with no budget, operating under a “continuing resolution” that allows them to spend money at the same rate as last year. Last night, an effort to pass an “omnibus” spending bill for the rest of FY 2011 allocating total spending at the same level of FY2010 was defeated. This means that until February and the next Congress, Fermilab and the rest of the government will operate without a budget. At some point after that, the Republicans plan to try and pass a budget cutting spending from the FY2010 level. Fermilab could very well find itself this Spring finally finding out that its FY2011 budget has been cut, with only a few months left to get spending down to the appropriated level. Budgetary problems are not just affecting the Tevatron, with plans for an underground laboratory in South Dakota dedicated to neutrino and other experiments now up in the air as the NSF has withdrawn its support for the project."

http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=3344

Infinite amounts of money for two unwinnable pointless wars in third world hellholes, but not a dime for basic science...

Still have no problem with the size of America's military budget, Brin?

rewinn said...

"...It was not unlawful for a State to secede"

It depends on what you mean by "unlawful".

Unlike the laws of physics, the laws of humanity can be contradictory. There are a few universally recognized (albeit frequently violated) rights, but it's not clear that secession is one of them. Our Constitution's text is silent on the subject. Our Supreme Court jurisprudence is currently against secession but it must be admitted that the leading case, Texas v. White, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 700, was decided at a rather ticklish time (1868).

It may well be that secession would be not unlawful under the constitution of state or province X, but unlawful under the constitution of X's home nation Y, but lawful under a particular treaty of X, yet unlawful under the laws of nations. Unlike the laws of nature, nothing in the laws of humanity ensures self-consistency.

---

Speaking of which, for the geeked-out lawyers, the ethical problems of cloud computing (...notably preserving client confidentiality...) have gotten to the point that advocates of cloud practice have formed the Legal Cloud Computing Association". Interested parties take note!

Anonymous said...

Brin mentioned predictions about California's future. Since shithole America is circling the toilet bowl and the suction is drawing it down, it stands to reason that California is on the leading edge of collapse.

So the future of California is clear: degeneration, decay, chaos, water riots, and martial law after oil hits a sustained $140 a barrel -- which Deutsche Bank analysts expect sometime soon after 2016.
http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2009/10/05/peak-oil-the-end-of-the-oil-age-is-near-deutsche-bank-says/

From the blog Calitics, we get another peek at California's wonderful future: "House Republicans plan to force California into bankruptcy to bust unions."
http://www.calitics.com/diary/12949/house-republicans-plan-to-force-california-into-bankruptcy-to-bust-unions

This isn't fringe black helicopter stuff: here's the Reuters news story, "Secret GOP plan: Push states to declare bankruptcy and smash unions."
http://blogs.reuters.com/james-pethokoukis/2010/12/07/secret-gop-plan-push-states-to-declare-bankruptcy-and-smash-unions/

The future of California is cannibalism and barbarism. California is already a gulag with a nice ocean view: once known as the "science state," California is today a cesspit of prisons where one out of every five state prison guards makes more than $100,000 year -- even as California shuts down schools, fires university professors and shutters community colleges.

See the Economist article: "Gulags in the Sun"
http://www.economist.com/node/14222337

California is Unsustainability Central, ground zero for the meltdown of American society, the original Typhoid Mary of American decay and collapse.

rewinn said...

Digressing back to transparency for a moment:
Wik-Bee Leaks: EPA Document Shows It Knowingly Allowed Pesticide That Kills Honey Bees

Bees are pretty important in the production of a lot of crops, but recently the U.S. population has been crashing. One has to wonder why reports like this are secret at all.

Rob said...

I had a short conversation with a beekeeper a couple of weeks ago. What he said was that beekeeping used to be as easy as trucking the boxes of beehives from place to place; the blight has turned it into a manageable husbandry problem, nothing more. In fact he spoke with contempt about the "problem" as he put it.

With respect to secession, any seceding State would have to assume the powers in Article I, section 10. Article IV is silent on the matter of secession. Amendment 10 appears to deny the federal government the right to deny an act of secession to any State.

Unless there are any specific treaties or U.S.C. law in place (international sovereignty treaties? I dunno) requiring the United States to maintain its current borders and makeup, Article VI doesn't have any force, it seems to me.

If you can overcome that burden, you can make a case that secession is not lawful. But what I really meant was that it still doesn't appear to be illegal, even almost 150 years after Sumter.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@gmknobl: "I can tell you quite positively that slavery was the very root cause of the war, without exception. Another popular argument is that economics, or sometimes economic freedom which is code phrase for states rights, are the root cause of the war."

Coming from a family of Southern historians myself, the root cause was that slavery and economics were too tightly tied together in the South. Every other economic grievance, legit or not, that the South had ultimately returned to the slave question because it was too deeply rooted in EVERYTHING. Industrialization, interstate commerce, tariff policy, trade agreements, taxes, infrastructure investment, law enforcement. It wasn't just because both sides were stubborn as blue blazes that slavery became the pivotal issue. The Southern aristocrats had specialized so heavily, and sunk their capital so deeply, into slavery that it would have taken economic assistance from the North to get out of the cul-de-sac without collapsing the Southern economy... which the South was far too proud to ask for, and the North might or might not have been gracious enough to grant.

But we'll never know, because "You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you. God damn you all to hell!"

@Stuart: You've missed the key point of Southern culture that finally let them accept, at least in public, the abolition of racism and discrimination.

One of the key points of the aristo-culture was pride in manners and chivalry. "We" are "better" because we "act differently", in a "superior manner". "We" are not these "other people" -- be they scruffy, uppity Yankees or unwashed coloreds -- because of "our" gentility and "proper behavior".

It's not that racism has gone away, oh no, there are PLENTY of racists left. (And not all of them are light-skinned, either.) But the one thing that makes it all work is that open, public, barefaced racism... is now RUDE!

What guns and torched courthouses and occupation and economic collapse and decades of legal and political maneuvering... not to mention CENTURIES of moralizing... could not do, was done in just a few years by this cultural shift. Being an out-and-out bigot "isn't done" anymore, and you don't garner respect if you do it. That's why it's considered "lower-class" now to fly a Rebel flag, even among those who secretly still identify with their aristo ancestors.

Aside from that, I think a lot of non-racist Southerners feel sympathy for the Confederacy because Southerners are automatically looked down upon in other parts of the country, so they respond by cleaving more tightly to the Southern identity and those who share it.

And that's ANOTHER reason I detest the moralizers. It always, always backfires. I have that sense of solidarity myself, even while holding pride in the role my own family played in the civil rights movement. I am not a fan of the Levitical idea of visiting the sins of the father upon the son; and I did not grow up with that chain of shame around my neck. I will work to obliterate its damage, but I do not deserve punishment because of the place I was born. That, too, is a very American ideal. And it is one that some posters here would do well to consider -- especially Mr. Kurman, who epitomizes the Radical Republicans of 1866 in every particular. And just in case I'm not clear.... that's not a compliment.

Last but not least -- Stuart, the fact that progressive ideals, ESPECIALLY among Caucasians, are suppressed in Southern politics is not at all an accident and has been ongoing for decades. I can comment further (and provide references) if there is interest...

Tacitus said...

Its fun to deride the former Secession states. They are politically backward, they hold unreasonably to outmoded faiths. Nobody mentioned the hillbilly teeth, but you know you were thinking it.

But lets be inclusive.

In 1846 California seceded from the established authority and established an independent state. They figured the central authority would let them go their own way, as no doubt the Confederates thought 14years later.

So, shall we attribute the systemic issues of California, and they are legion, to the legacy of this contemptable act?

Tacitus

Anonymous said...

George Lakoff has an interesting mini-article at the website The Edge. It's worth quoting in its entirety.

`Enlightenment Reason and Classical Rationality have been shown over and over in the cognitive and brain sciences to be false in just about every respect. Yet they are still being taught and used throughout the academic world and in progressive policy circles. Real human reason is very different.

`Here are the claims of enlightenment reason, and the realities:

*Claim: Thought is conscious. But neuroscience shows that thought is about 98 percent unconscious.
*Claim: Reason is abstract and independent of the body. But reason is embodied in two ways: (1) we think with our brains and (2) thought is grounded in the sensory-motor system.
*Yet, because we think with our brains and thought is embodied via the sensory-motor system, reason is completely embodied.
*Claim: Reason can fit the world directly. Yet because we think with a brain structured by the body, reason is constrained by what the brain and body allow.
*Claim: Reason uses formal logic. In reality, reason is frame-based and very largely metaphorical. Basic metaphors arise naturally around the world due to common experiences and the nature of neural learning. The literature on Embodied cognition has experimentally verified the reality of metaphorical thought. Real human reason uses frame-based and metaphor-based logics. Behavioral economics is based on this fact.
*Claim: Emotion gets in the way of reason. Actually, real reason requires emotion. Brain-damaged patients who cannot feel emotion don't know what to want, since like and not like mean nothing to them and they cannot judge the emotions of others. As a result they cannot make rational decisions.
*Claim: Reason is universal. Actually, even conservatives and progressives reason differently, and evidence is pouring in that one's native language affects how one reasons.
*Claim: Language is neutral, and can fit the world directly. Actually language is defined in terms of frames and metaphors, works through the brain and does not fit the world directly. Indeed, many of the concepts named by words (e.g. freedom) are essentially contested and have meanings that vary with value systems.
*Claim: Mathematics exists objectively and structures the universe. Mathematics has actually been created by mathematicians using their human brains, with frames and metaphors.

(continued below)

Anonymous said...

*Claim: Reason serves self-interest. Partly true of course, but to a very large extent reason is based on empathetic connections to others, which works via the mirror neuron systems in our brains.

`Given the massive failures of enlightenment reason, widely documented in the brain and cognitive sciences, why is it still taught and widely assumed?

`First, it did a great historical job back in the 17th and 18th centuries in overcoming the dominance of the Church and feudalism.

`Second, it permitted the rise of science, even though science doesn't really use it.

`Third, unconscious mechanisms like framed-based and metaphorical thought are mostly not accessible to consciousness, and thus we cannot really see how we think.

`Fourth, applications of formal logic have come into wide use, say in the rational actor model of classical economics (which failed in the economic collapse of 2008).

`Fifth, we are taught enlightenment reason in our schools and universities and its failure is not directly taught, even in neuroscience classes.

`Sixth, most people just think and don’t pay much attention to the details, especially those that are not conscious.

`Much of liberal thought uses enlightenment reason, which claims that if you just tell people the facts about their interests, they will reason to the right conclusion, since reason is supposed to universal, logical, and based on self-interest. The Obama administration assumed that in its policy discourse, and that assumption led to the debacle of the 2010 elections. Marketers have a better sense of how reason really works, and Republicans have been better at marketing their ideas. The scientific fallacy of enlightenment reason has thus had major real-world effects.'

Source:
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/thaler10/thaler10_index.htm

David Brin said...

Catfish, that was an absolutely wonderful posting.

You should top-post it somewhere like your own blog.

The rudeness explanation was marvelous.

"Aside from that, I think a lot of non-racist Southerners feel sympathy for the Confederacy because Southerners are automatically looked down upon in other parts of the country, so they respond by cleaving more tightly to the Southern identity and those who share it."

Look I get this. Even though I feel that Red America has been VASTLY more aggressive and vicious in Culture War than Blue America has been, I confess that I can see how the simple inundation of Hollywood flicks and academic lectures and - above all - the way the brightest young high-school graduates flee toward the blue as fact as possible, every single year...

..all of these humiliations may FEEL to old boys like the Blues fired first. Heck, resentments that go back to Nixon add to the feeling.

It ain't true, of course. Culture war is their horrid aggression against a Union that has subsidized them for generations. Their relentless preenings that they are wiser and more moral are belied by far higher rates of teen sex,prenancy, STDs, domestic violence... and accusations that I am less patriotic, even though many of them wish the United States had failed,...

...but I would gladly, gladly, negotiate and end to this fight. Or do a gladiator test of champions at NASCAR.

---
The best thing to come out of these discussions was when one of you (?) pointed out that the Fugitive Slave Law was both a repression of (northern) states' rights AND a license for physical invasion of northern states by small armies of southerners, galloping about, kicking open doors and smashing walls in search of secret passageways. Ten years of that disprove, forever, the notion that the North attacked first.

rewinn said...

"Amendment 10 appears to deny the federal government the right to deny an act of secession to any State. ..."
No. Am10 merely reserves already-existing rights and does not settle the question whether such a right exists.

The Supremacy Clause is much more clear on the subject: no state may exempt itself from laws except by permission of Congress.

But as noted, our Constitution is silent on the subject and the Supreme Court ruled in 1868: secession is illegal under American law. Of course, the subject can be brought up in a new case or controversy, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Whether secession legal under international law is another question. The breakup of Yugoslavia strongly suggests that secession can be legal under international law.

Human-made law is often inconsistent and it is important, when examining questions of legality, to specific what kind of law one is dealing with. Compare and contrast the laws of baseketball and of hockey.

Tony Fisk said...

Ironically, I suspect this question of secession has become more strident following the break up of another union twenty years ago.

Without something external to push against, old resentments and 'unfinished business' can get more attention.

Which suggests that they will get put on the backburner again if a place like China becomes more threatening. (which isn't likely)

David Brin said...

Anonymous, thanks for the brief summary of Lakoff's latest dismissal of reason as a tool of enlightenment decision making. It provokes me to respond.

Lakoff is completely right that so-called logical reasoning is extremely faulty because it fails to take into account human nature. For example, our biased perceptions were faulted by Plato, the father of the socratic tradition of reasoning... though Plato went on to claim that such reasoning systems can fully compensate for bad perceptions. A blatant falsehood, since the human talent for delusion easily extends to the misleading incantations of "logic."

Also, as Lakoff points out, our brains seem wired for bias, which reasoning generally serves only to rationalize.

On the other hand, I hope that Lakoff made more than just six points, because he leaves out some real biggies.

First: while reason has clearly been revealed as faulty, in guiding us to useful scientific conclusions, it still serves science very well, in fact crucially well, as a hypothesis generator. By far most of the assertions that are later subjected to Popperian falsification arise, either wholly or in part, through processes of abstract reasoning.

Further: Lakoff asserts that logic and reason are fundamental underpinnings of the Enlightenment Experiment. I will confess that they started out that way, and still are vital components of the non-Anglic wing of the Enlightenment. But the Anglo-American wing long ago chose to demote reason to second-tier status. It is still important, as an ideal to be yearned-for. But primary position was given - by Locke, Smithm Franklin, and Madison to something else:

Reciprocal Accountability.

Knowing how good human beings are, at rationalization, the sages of the Enlightenment's pragmatic wing chose to emphasize adversarial processes, in markets, democracy, justice and science. Competitive criticism and reward systems that are based on actual outcomes were supposed to overcome the biases that the Founders knew to be inherent in human nature.

David Brin said...

The biggest reason Jeff Davis was pardoned was to prevent a trial where he would present witnesses claiming secession was legal.

This issue is why I oppose statehood for Puerto Rico. Suppose they change their mind?

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Anonymous
Your criticism of reason as a tool misses the point – it’s not how we think that is important so much as how the physical world works.
Reason may be a poor tool to manipulate people but it is the only thing that works to manipulate physical objects in the world.
As Kipling said in the Secret of the Machines

But remember, please, the Law by which we live,
We are not built to comprehend a lie,
We can neither love nor pity nor forgive.
If you make a slip in handling us you die!

Marketing may work on people but reason is required for the real world

Tony Fisk said...

I haven't enough background on US history to really comment on this (hypothetical) secession stuff.

Nevertheless... there is an interesting parallel (or anti-parallel?) going on in Sudan, where Omar al-Bashir (whose 'investments' were recently featured by wikileaks) is stating that Islam and Sharia law will be enforced in the North if the South secedes

It sounds similar to what I suspect might have been announced if the North chose to pull out of the Union.

Tony Fisk said...

... mind you, from a quick glance online, I'm not sure what southern Sudan has to offer as an independent state!

Rob said...

No. Am10 merely reserves already-existing rights and does not settle the question whether such a right exists.

Weak sauce, in my opinion, since we Americans have not ceased to create rights out of whole cloth when we think of them, and then ensconce those rights in law. Right to education in public common schools comes to mind just off the cuff.

It exists if we say it does.

But I can think of a stronger set of arguments, which starts with "When in the Course of Human Events..." America's basis is in a fundamental right of secession.

Puerto Rico needs its own Senators, in my opinion. But Congress could overcome any fear of secession from them by simply incorporating language prohibiting it for some span of time in its Act of Union, should the time come.

The U.S. isn't going to stay a 50-State polity forever; that condition is only 60-odd years old anyway.

David Brin said...

The south has more oil than the north. And no infrastructure at all. But more African nations should break up, then form voluntary groups

Anonymous said...

Re: the founders, reciprocal accountability is a mechanism designed by reasoning about government and coming up with a logical left-brain solution. Brin's point actually supports Lakoff's claims because, as we have seen, reciprocal accountability has broken down in American governance.

Patriot Act I and II and more recently extraordinary rendition (renamed "preventive detention" and continued by Obama) and Obama's extrajudicial assassination order of Anwar Al-Awlaki all show that the constitution and the rule of law no longer exists in America.

That's not just my wild-eyed claim. The 50th anniversary symposium at Berkeley on the topic "Is there hope for the rule of law in America?" concluded "No."

See Brad Delong's column here:
http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/09/social-studies-50th-anniversary-symposium-is-there-hope-for-the-rule-of-law-in-america.html

DeLong points out that Bush II and Obama have arrogated to themselves powers to torture and murder and kidnap citizens (without a trial or even charging them with a crime) that not even William the Conquerer claimed, and that even the Magna Carta explicitly prohibits.

Clearly the founders failed. The rule of law has broken down in America and we now subsist under a Star Chamber-like system in which secret courts hear secret evidence and where the chief executive issues assassination orders against citizens he doesn't like.

As the saying goes, the constitution is not ensconced in law, but lives in our hearts. When we as citizens fail to hold it in our hearts, clever lawyers like John Yoo chip away at it until there's nothing left. Reason will not save us.

Meanwhile:

Secret GOP Plan: push states to declare bankruptcy and smash unions
http://blogs.reuters.com/james-pethokoukis/2010/12/07/secret-gop-plan-push-states-to-declare-bankruptcy-and-smash-unions/

Public employees are the last bastion of unionization in America, and the GOP desperately wants to destroy all unions, once and for all. This could do it.

As this Salon article points out, the final step is to fire all the cops and firemen and soldiers and replace them with sub-minimum-wage H1B immigrant workers -- in effect, coolies.
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2010/07/27/american_people_obsolete

The Confederacy would have re-established its slave empire, but under a different name.

rewinn said...

"...America's basis is in a fundamental right of secession...."

I keep trying to say this in different ways: you can't make an argument about "legal" without specifying what code of laws you are talking about.

The laws of the universe relate to some objective reality and therefore are inherently consistent (plus or minus the weirdness of quantum stuff). In contrast, the laws of humanity are merely intersubjective and therefore often contradictory. It is just as easy for secession to be "legal" under international law and "illegal" under our constitution as touching the ball with your hands may be legal in basketball and illegal in soccer (football).

Our Revolution was illegal under the laws of Great Britain; our Founders knew they were signing their death warrants. They believed it was legal under the laws of nations, and I assume you & I & many former Yugoslavians agree on that point.

Secession is illegal under our Constitution; the Supreme Ct ruled that in 1868 and is unlikely to overturn that any time soon. Perhaps they ruled "wrongly" or perhaps one might "discover" a right to secession under international law or otherwise, but with the Supremacy Clause, the states voluntarily surrendered to the central government any right to ignore federal laws (...which is why when the states got mad at federal courts, the 11th Amendment was "necessary" ...) and therefore the 10th Amendment is irrelevant here.

Secession is (very likely) legal under the law of nations. I'd love to see secessionists make that argument with a straight face.

"...The U.S. isn't going to stay a 50-State polity forever..."
I sincerely hope that any land over which the American flag flies soon has fair representation in Congress & Presidential elections, including D.C. and our modern semi-slave "state" of Northern Marianas Islands.

atomicsmith said...

Don't knock cheesy sci-fi lines!

One of my favorite short stories has one of the cheesiest:

"Looks like bears have discovered fire," he said.

David Brin said...

Anonymous (please join us with a name) said: "Brin's point actually supports Lakoff's claims because, as we have seen, reciprocal accountability has broken down in American governance."

This is a misguided way of viewing things.

Human nature and darwinian advantage had us permanently trapped in an awful attractor state called feudalism. Many attempts were made to break out of the trap. All failed until a NEW ATTRACTOR was found. It is a very difficult alternative that requires high levels of education and cultural good will. The core tool, reciprocal accountability, was appraised by Adam Smith and Locke and Franklin and Madison unleashed it.

It is simply obtuse to say that RA never worked. We live surrounded by a million... a billion... manifest miracles that no other generations had, because of the fecundity of markets, democracy, science and prim justice.

Yes, this synergy is under attack. No one is louder than me, in crying from the rooftops that the old enemy - the old oligarchic attractor state - is making yet another fevered try to topple the experiment, by undermining the effectiveness of RA.

But people who say RA has not and cannot work are simply out to lunch. Worse, they are wallowing in the kind of cynicism that serves the enemy's purposes.

Robert said...

Secession is legal under International Law but there is a caveat: secession is only legal when the United States government decides it is legal. Thus the breakup of the Soviet Union was legal, as was the creation of Kosovo. But Georgia breaking up is not, nor is Somalia breaking up because the U.S. government refuses to acknowledge those.

Rob H.

Ilithi Dragon said...

IMO, secession can technically be legal under U.S. constitutional law, but the problem of legal secession extends beyond just the law of the U.S. Constitution. Every single member of the U.S., especially those serving in government roles, has sworn at least one oath of allegiance to the Flag of the United States, and the Republic For Which it Stands. There is no part of that or any other oath of allegiance or office that grants allowance for the reneging of that vow. The only case for reneging that vow that can be made is the same made by the founders when they rebelled against English rule, and that requires severe and prolonged abuse and violation of that oath by the powers holding it (as oath-holders have a duty to reciprocate loyalty and service to the oath-takers as much as the oath-takers give their loyalty and service), combined with the oath-takers prolonged and repeated attempts to correct issues through all other available avenues, repeatedly exhausting all other legal and quasi-legal means to address the abuses and violations by their oath-holders. It is only after going to such lengths, with no tangible resolution, that their oaths become void by the actions of the oath-holders. Then, and only then, does secession become legal under U.S. law.

ingenq: Rebranding of a certain dinosaur cloning company in preparation for a second attempt at a live dinosaur theme park.

David Brin said...

Ilithi gets Post of the Day. A very cogent restatement of what I've also said - that the Declaration of Independence makes very clear how to proceed with a process of secession. The Confeds were keenly aware of that precedent, imitating all of the rhythms and linguistic flourishes of the DoI...

...while ignoring its core and central and obvious message. That people and states may break their oaths only after assiduously and meticulously satisfying a steep burden of proof that the breaking of bonds is justified and necessary, after repeated and sincere efforts to petition, negotiate and compromise.

Not only did the confeds NOT do any of those things... they made an outrageously obscene caricature of going out of their way not to do them. Not one delegation went to Lincoln to even ask his intentions. Not even that.

And this was a couple of years after Jefferson Davis speechified West Point cadets that they should hold to their oaths to the USA "right-or-wrong" and no matter what.

There is another matter, that of INTERESTS. The people of the United States had a profound interest in seeing to it that their posterity would grow up in an unprecedentedly prosperous and peaceful continental republic, free of armed borders, major standing armies, Euro-style frontier bickering and commerce strangling internal tariffs.... or inevitably recurring war. Other human beings - born in America - had an interest in the inevitable freedom from slavery that would be theirs, if the Union stayed whole. Even southern whites had an interest - though they were fox-fooled into ignoring it - in escaping the south's then-standard feudalism and ignorance.

If secession happens, then all of those interests carry a moral, if not primly legal - weight, adding to the burden of proof, that the south bore, to show that its grievances outweighed all that.

A burden of proof that they did not even remotely try to satisfy.

Again though... viewing the Fugitive Slave Law as unleashing an actual PHYSICAL INVASION of northern states by brutal bands of paramilitary thugs... I had never thought of that before.

Blatantly, that was the first invasion and aggression of the Civil War.

David Brin said...

onward...

Anonymous said...

Interesting discussion about the American Civil War. Sounds like the side that lost might have won?

Would that also apply to the Cold War? Remembering reading early Heinlein as a wee lad, and things like a state monitoring its citizens being a sign of a tyranny (Between Planets, say). Now we have this:

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/monitoring-america/

rewinn said...

"...IMO, secession can technically be legal under U.S. constitutional law..."

The Supreme Court, the plain text of the Supremacy Clause, and the practice of the United States all disagrees with you. However, I would never argue that those could not be in error.

"... but the problem of legal secession extends beyond just the law of the U.S. Constitution."

Certainly. The first problem is that secessionists have to be willing to break the law. (Omitting the case in which Congress authorizes the secession, which would clearly be constitutional.)

It puzzles me why secessionists even bother trying to call "legal under the Constitution" an act they would (hypothetically) consider a morally justified and legal under international law. There are a great many acts that are (hypothetically) moral AND illegal. Do they wish to fuel their moral outrage against a (hypothetically) oppressive central government by claiming that they and they alone are faithful to a Sacred Text?

"... one oath of allegiance to the Flag of the United States, and the Republic For Which it Stands..."
This is a better point than you may realize.

While it is extremely important not to romanticize our military (...you will find that they are people much like the rest of ourselves, but at times resentful that they have to bear the burden of a civilian leadership who treat them like plastic toys...), it must be noted that when, in the last decade, the issue of violating our Constitution's absolute prohibition against torture and summary trials, and our Treaty obligations not to engage in agressive war, the only effectual resistence came from the Officer Corps ... for which many paid with their careers despite their rigorous adherence to orders. General Shinsheki and Lt.Cmdr Swift are two that come to mind without even googling.