Tuesday, April 05, 2011

An Open Letter to The Ivory Coast's New President Alassane Ouattara

To Ivory Coast President-elect Alassane Ouattara
-- on the eve of victory in your nation's recent civil war.


Dear President-Elect Ouatarra,

I offer that salutation in light of statements by the United Nations and other international agencies, who vouch that you were the victor in Ivory Coast's recent election, an outcome that former history professor-turned-politician, Laurent Gbagbo had refused to accept, terminating his 10-year rule. Along with all the world, I hope and pray that the violence in your country will end soon and that you will usher in an era of reform, peace, integrity and respect for democratic principles.

But others are talking about all of those things. So I want to focus on something else. Something much less airy and far more immediate. The end-game, as you close in on Laurent Gbagbo, who is at this moment (according to news reports) holed-up in the basement of his palace, trying to negotiate a way out.

Now, some are urging you to refuse negotiations, in order to make the dictator stand trial. Others hope that a way out for Gbagbo will bring peace and help build trust with his followers in a nation deeply riven by tribal suspicions.


The Unspoken Chips on the Table

Whichever path you choose, let me suggest an extremely hard-nosed factor. It is common knowledge that almost every powerful man of Gbagbo's ilk - on every continent - has engaged in graft for many years, siphoning away value that should have been spent on the people. But the damage extends beyond simple rip-off corruption. Instead of being invested in productive capacity in your nation, venal officials nearly always shunt most of their ill-gotten gains overseas, squirrelling their loot away for safety (and interest) in Swiss and other secret accounts. This compounds the evil done by corrupt leaders, leaving their nations capital-poor.

I am not telling you anything new, of course. In negotiations with Gbagbo, I am sure these accounts have been -- shall we say -- topics of conversation. The most natural human thing for someone in your position to do would be to demand some fraction of these accounts as a "fee" for allowing Gbagbo to escape -- so he can live in comfort on the rest of his loot. Let's be frank; that is how it was traditionally done.

May I offer an alternative, though?

By all means, demand the keys to several accounts, as a measure of good faith. Pretend to take the bribe. Verify the funds and transfer them...

...only then... announce to your nation and the world what you have done!

State the accounts and amounts openly. Tell Gbagbo's supporters that this is proof he never deserved their loyalty, in the first place. And go on to say that you are setting an example for a new age.

The advantages of doing this will be immense. You will undermine the tribal resentment of Gbagbo's followers. By refusing a blatant chance for graft, you will build trust and goodwill, at home and abroad. You will become a Mandella-like figure, overnight!

And you will then be in a position to say to Gbagbo -- "No, we will not let you go. There was no deal. This was never your money, in the first place! Surrender for trial and hand over the rest of what you stole!"


Helping to Transform the Planet

In fact, if you really want to shake things up... why not become a hero of the entire developing world by demanding that all the nations that are secret banking havens come forward at once, offering back ALL of the money stolen from Ivory Coast, across the last 50 years. And declaring that they will be answerable - double - for anything they hold back. As well as for anything deposited in secret by Ivorians in the future, ever again.

Oh, I know this will be hard. Many of those surrounding you already have their eyes on this luscious prize. Gbago will offer some pretty hefty bribe-incentives. But I can even suggest a way around that problem!

For example, you might place HALF of the recovered money in a "Corruption Remedy Fund" that will provide big bonuses to those public officials who spent the next 5 years living as open-book paragons of honest public service. (A pattern that should apply to their entire extended family.) Bonuses so big that they will care very deeply about winning them.

Who could complain about that? If the prizes are carefully administered by respected international and African figures, under transparent rules that truly put your officials under a relentless spotlight... then this money will be well-spent. No one will complain much. Especially if - during that five year wait - all the money is invested where it belongs. Back in the Ivory Coast.

Mr. President-Elect Ouattara, please understand. I know and everybody knows what temptations await you. Humanity is emerging from many thousands of years in which certain "corrupt" aspects of leadership were considered normal. But the future will honor and exalt those who help to lead their nations -- and lead us all -- out of that dark era. You have an opportunity to be one of those exalted ones -- though it will be hard to do.

The Decision is Yours

I don't know you. I have no idea whether you are already determined to be a transforming figure, or already far-gone down the traditional, dismal path. Or - perhaps - teetering somewhere in between. Time will tell, I suppose. I admit, the odds aren't good.

But I hope -- we all can hope -- that you will turn out to be one of those men about whom history looks back, with pride. One who is savvy enough to play hard and well... but far-seeing enough to understand the real prize.

With cordial regards,

David Brin


author of The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?

http://www.davidbrin.com

105 comments:

David Brin said...

Is anybody here chums or Kevinbacon'd with Outtara? If so, pass this along?

Lorraine said...

Here's hoping heads of state can lead the way to a peaceful resolution to the Helvetian situation and other diseses.

Gil said...

If only there were some way to get someone like him to actually read this message...here's hoping he's a fan of Startide Rising...

Atlanta Roofing said...

The situation in the Ivory Coast is rather like that in the former Yugoslavia, which followed a similar cycle of political systems failing, rising violence with civilians often the victims and an international community for a long period only willing to take very limited steps in the face of a humanitarian disaster and likely war crimes.

Tony Fisk said...

Here's the Rally for the Republicans website (Outtarra'a party). All in French. No clear email address (or my French isn't up to identifying it)

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

The issue I had with the Rand viewpoint is that she seems to assume that only a very small percentage of humanity is competent.

That that small number of people needs to tell the rest of us what to do or nothing happens.

My view is that the majority of people are competent,

Who gets positions of authority has some relationship to competence but is much more to do with luck.

If the Martians were to steal all senior managers there would be a short period of chaos then other people would move into those positions and things would go on as usual
(cynically I think – better than usual)


The other related issue is that she seems to assume that the leader of a project is the only one contributing the brainpower

Issigonis – designed the mini – Rand viewpoint

Actually Issigonis led a team of six that brought together engineering work from many other teams and used many components already in production.

Without Issigonis a car would still have been designed – probably not as good but possibly better!

When you consider the huge amount of engineering involved in a car design you are looking at tens of thousands of engineer years of work.

An engineer who did not use other peoples work would still be deciding which type of stone is best for his handaxe

Following from the assumption that the leader of a project is the only one contributing the brainpower Rand asserts that he/she should get the majority of the profit, - from my perspective the leader MAY contribute more to the project than other individuals in his team but almost never hugely more.

I remember some old science fiction stories talking about the rarity of “idea men” –

In my experience good ideas are common

The problem is that it takes a lot of work from a lot of competent people to turn the ideas into reality.

How much is the idea itself worth?
And how much is the implementation worth?

David Brin said...

Essentially Rand was a platonist. A breed of wizard-priests who incantantions have less to do with gods than solipsistic egotism. The same chains of if-then statements... most of them at-best 70% right and many less so... all leading to a tendentiously pre-wished end result.

Try multiplying 0.7 x 0.7 fifty times and tell me what you get.

Tony Fisk said...

(0.7)^50 may equal something like this pair of unfortunates, who managed to slip no less than six natural disasters into their honeymoon itinerary!

quive: when you have the shakes so bad you are completely motionless.

LarryHart said...

(On the previous comment thread--apologies if it's bad form to jump like this)
Neil Miller said:

Have you noticed that there seems to be an increase in talk of a return to the Gold Standard, especially among those aligned with the people of that ilk? While that wouldn't totally prevent We The People from taking our ball and going to play a different game, it would make it more difficult.


Oh, I've realized that that's the WHOLE reason why the (otherwise nonsensical) discussion of the gold standard is going on now. I mean, I understand some of the benefits of an intrinsically-backed currency, but making that particular move during a Great Recession is absurd. Inflation is actualy a desirable thing right now.


I'd also waging that large portions of the wealth isn't stored in things of no intrinsic value, but rather the opposite: stock, real estate, commodities, all the things that make up the means of production, etc.


But those "tangible" things you mentioned are really still just pieces of paper declaring ownership. They haven't moved all of the actual wheat, corn, factories, or (certainly) real estate to Switzerland or Dubai with them. They've got pieces of paper that say they OWN the stuff, which prevents anyone else from eating or otherwise making use of it. Unless We The People's court system stops enforcing those claims.

I live in Cook County, IL which contains Chicago. I get jury duty every few years. The words "jury nullification" sound increasingly good to me.


And, of course the money that leaves the country will undoubtedly be converted to othe moneies that we can't declare worthless. It's never going to be as easy as looking over and saying "Oh, that's a nice pile of paper you've got there. We don't use that anymore."


I get that. I wasn't thinking that what I suggested would be a cakewalk. In fact, it's probably the most radical, revolutionary change I've ever actually hoped for. And something I'd only suggest in a "nothing left to lose" situation.

It's analogous to the flegeling USA after the Revolution. The uber-rich of the time fled to Canada or Britain. We The People were left with what they left behind. Worked out fairly well, as I recall. :)

Come to think of it, this situation is also strangely reflective of our recent "Rapture" discussion. The "elect" may be "taken up" along with all of the gold and paper claims to wealth of the country. The "left behind" will have to make do with real labor and real resources.

Interesting times, as the curse goes.

Carl M. said...

Ayn Rand's plot element of a tiny competent minority was intentionally artificial. She was positing a parallel reality in which several philosophies which she loathed were taken seriously by most of the educated class. Her heroes were the throwbacks who stuck to a more capitalist/Aristotelian worldview.

In one of her essays, she compared educators who pushed Kantian and similar philosophies to those monsters in Medieval Spain who intentionally crippled children by raising them in jars in order to have circus freaks. The incompetence that pervades Atlas Shrugged is an overdramatized effect.

Ayn Rand believed that competence could be near universal, if we didn't cripple minds with bad philosophy. Her belief in potential near universal competence was excessive even. Rand belongs with Marx and Rousseau on the tabula rasa spectrum.

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

Ayn Rand's plot element of a tiny competent minority was intentionally artificial. She was positing a parallel reality in which several philosophies which she loathed were taken seriously by most of the educated class. Her heroes were the throwbacks who stuck to a more capitalist/Aristotelian worldview.


And yet, her worshipers insist that the plot of "Atlas Shrugged" is unfolding before our eyes in the real world. Heck, my formerly-sane conservative buddy posted a year ago on his blog that Obama was about to implement Directive 10-289, the law in AS which prevented anyone from moving or changing jobs. He seriously believes stuff like that.


Ayn Rand believed that competence could be near universal, if we didn't cripple minds with bad philosophy.


But where are these new young minds supposed to come from, since (as Dr Brin mentioned), none of her characters reproduce. The resolution depends upon all of the good characters taking their rightful places as a sort of secular pantheon (Dagny as goddess of Transportation, Hank as god of Manufacturing, Galt as god of Energy, etc) without a single thought to what happens in 40 or 60 or 80 years after these people have shuffled off the mortal coil.

The disconnect between sex and reproduction in her books is startling, considering that a passage in AS is devoted to Hank and Dagny discussing the "fact" that even as universal an experience as enjoyment of a good meal is only possible if the meal is stoking one up for some later purpose. She explicitly denies that eating should be a pleasure in and of itself unless it has a larger application. Yet her "good" characters are all sexually ravenous, but completely disconnected from the biological purpose OF sex.

LarryHart said...

Speaking of Rand, I'm reminded of a response I intended to yesterday's article about the girl's father who ruined her upbringing with Objectivism.

Specifically, Rand's inversion of the word "selfish".

Rand specifically argues that it is a virtue, not a vice, for someone to spend the money he earns through his own efforts on himself rather than on others--that others have no CLAIM upon that wealth. In fact, I kinda/sorta see her point, and would only argue percentages--that the society which allows that individual to thrive and prosper has a claim to X%.

But that argument is really a trojan horse to sneak in the assertion that "selfishness" as portrayed in yesterday's article is a virtue. If you recall, the author complained that her big brother grabbed all of the food off the table before she got any, and her father praised the brother's "selfishness" as a good thing.

The brother didn't pay for that food himself. The father brought it home, presumably to feed the whole family. The fact that the brother only cares about himself is irrelevant--the food doesn't BELONG to him. Even if one accepts Rand's worldview, that sort of behavior shouldn't be tolerated. Yet it is, just because it's a form of "selfishness". Feh!

Cheating, coercion, and murder are all done for "selfish" reasons. Are the Randroids proud of THAT sort of behavior too now?

Carl M. said...

@LarryHart: I am not defending Ayn Rand's philosophy overall. I just dislike straw man arguments. Your point about the lack of children is a much more valid criticism than the ubermen bit. I wrote something similar in my critique of Objectism here: http://www.holisticpolitics.org/Greed/Objectivist_Ethics.php

All involved in critiquing/defending Rand should keep in mind that the philosophy she is attacking is largely dead. It was killed of by drug enhanced hippies in the 1960s. "If it feels good do it" and "Hell no! We won't go!" are about as un-Kantian as you can get. The New Left's insistence on legal abortion is also very compatible with Rand's philosophy. And don't get me started on the self-esteem movement which has its roots in the Rand cult.

To see what Rand was attacking you have to look at some old Bogart movies or read Harper's Magazine (the last holdout of angst worship). There are probably some academic journals still wallowing in such unpleasantness as well.

But for the most part both the Left and Right are far from the Kantian ethical philosophy that was once in vogue.

Rob said...

There *is* a scene in Atlas Shrugged where Dagny decides another human being is no longer human, and puts him down like a lamed horse. He was in her way, you see.

The push for the gold standard is, I think, an effort to stave off the most logical of fiat currency moves, simply increase the supply of money in a way that doesn't flow to the people who have most of it. Strikes me that that's what they're opposing.

They also oppose a global currency, and probably opposed the Euro; it's impossible to work arbitrage on a money market if everyone agrees to use the same kind of bead! :-)

Carl M. said...

@Rob: with a gold standard and 100% reserves (as the Austrian school folks advocate), Joe the garbage man could get a decent IRA return at his local bank. (Banks would have to have long term deposits to finance mortgages in a world where time-arbitrage is considered fraud.) That the government is ripping off retirees on fixed incomes is the complaint that led Karl Denninger to call for the first tea parties -- before the Republican usuals suspects took over that banner.

Fiat money and the Fed are massive multi-trillion dollar subsidies for the finance industry. If it bothers you that finance wizards are milking this country dry, then realize that the ogres at lewrockwell.com have a solution. (Alas, they haven't a clue as to how to phase it in without triggering another great depression.)

David Brin said...

Carl raises an excellent point about Ayn Rand’s use of a strawman societythat has dived into stupidly exaggerated philosophical foolishness, thus giving her a caricature for her heroes to oppose. Now in itself there’s nothing wrong with the “if this goes on” premise in sci fi. But how many of her readers get that she was warning against a failure mode that is (in its specifics) now obsolete?

Carl, could you give us a few paragraphs of specifics about the Kantianist versions that she railed against?

Nevertheless, LarryHart gets a prize for this well-wrought paragraph. Wow: “The disconnect between sex and reproduction in her books is startling, considering that a passage in AShrugged is devoted to Hank and Dagny discussing the "fact" that even as universal an experience as enjoyment of a good meal is only possible if the meal is stoking one up for some later purpose. She explicitly denies that eating should be a pleasure in and of itself unless it has a larger application. Yet her "good" characters are all sexually ravenous, but completely disconnected from the biological purpose OF sex.”

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

Rob said...
With respect to the gold standard, I don't see anything less of a fiat to it; one has to declare that gold is the standard, just as one would have to declare that "the dollar" is a standard, or "the euro", or "the kilocalorie" One could just as arbitrarily declare that the buttons on my Sunday suit were now money.

I agree that there are problems with the "finance industry", not least of which is that it isn't actually an industry; there is no direct production of wealth. No new matrix of services or new goods. But this isn't enough for me to agree that fiat currency amounts to a subsidy.

To the extent that a finance "industry" is a matrix of services for empowering people to create wealth, I may even agree that it deserves a subsidy. To the extent that the "industry" amounts to legalized reputation gambling, I'm not on board. To that end I'm not sure that day trading is even moral, though even ambiguities around that prevent me from deciding that it's immoral. (One can argue the fungibility of reputation through the stock market, after all.)

But even gold is a fiat currency, in my opinion. The only difference is that you can point to it.

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

All involved in critiquing/defending Rand should keep in mind that the philosophy she is attacking is largely dead. It was killed of by drug enhanced hippies in the 1960s.


That's what amazes me--most of those who are Ayn Rand fans these days seem to have discovered her no earlier than the 2006 ascension of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. And yet, they seem to be absolutely certain that Pelosi, and President Obama, represent Rand's villains incarnate. I wasn't making up the story about my old conservative buddy who aseserted as fact last year that Obama was about to implement Directive 10-289 to prevent people from moving to low-tax states.

LarryHart said...

Rob:

But even gold is a fiat currency, in my opinion. The only difference is that you can point to it.


The only difference is that gold is likely to be accepted by future human beings than is any particular paper currency.

But the gold standard isn't Objectively Right, no matter what the Randroids might think. Let Hank Rearden or John Galt crash land on a desert island with no food and no people, and see how much "objective value" their gold provides.

Barter is a fair echange of value between free individuals, and no gold is involved. The logical extension of Rand would lead to this absurdity: I own 1000 bottles of water, but no food. My neighbor has 1000 cans of dried food, but no water. Neigher of us owns any gold to make trades with, so I must starve while he dies of thirsrt. Feh!

David Brin said...

Predictive hit? On p.164 of EARTH: "How about fighting the greenhouse effect by sending lots of dust into the atmosphere, to block sunlight like those volcanoes did during the chill snap of '09."

A fan writes: "Oh, sure, far planets, the web, secrecy radicalism, all your dead-on technology, but HOW did you know in '89 that in 2009 volcano dust'd give us the cold snap in 2010?!

That's nuthin' Any of you ever see p.206 of The Transparent Society?  Creepier! (And more below.)

While we're at it. Is humankind evolving into a superorganism? Australian scientist, environmentalist, author, and climate change activist Tim Flannery, in Here on Earth, argues that we are living in a immensely cooperative world, rather than in a survival-of-the-fittest, dog-eat-dog world. Alas, no mention of my own theme in EARTH. http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/tim-flannery

Anonymous said...

Let me be the first to tell you.

The boycott has finally succeeded.

Glen Beck is leaving Fox.

http://www.mail.com/entertainment/
lifestyle/326088-glenn-becks-fox-
dropped.html#.7518-stage-subhero1-4

David Brin said...

Say, would any of you mind slipping the volcano bit into the main site at:
http://earthbydavidbrin.pbworks.Com/

Please? (Can't find my password.)

Re Beck -The most important aspect is that it proves that boycotts work.

Now to get the ball rolling on Hannity and Fox&Friends.

David Brin said...

Another... you guys remember this?

Late in 2010 I said we'll be sorry someday for investing too much in Just In Time production and inventory methods. Now the entire world economy is suffering because events in Japan have rocked delicate "efficient" supply chains.

Carl M. said...

In Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals Kant makes the following argument:

1. Only the will can be moral.
2. If it feels good, then the will is not involved.
3. Therefore, only when the act is unpleasant in some way can is it moral.

This is a distillation of around 60 pages of very dense prose. I have not read Kant's other works on moral philosophy, but I have reread this one several times. As a distinction between moral/amoral, this works to an extent. By this metric, the vandal is more evil than the thief. The thief has reasons other than spite to hurt others.

But Kant doesn't go this far. He stops at self sacrifice as the metric (though he makes a very passing concession that some pleasant benevolent acts are good).

For some examples of Kantian thought, see some old Bogart movies. Cassablanca is the most famous. There is another (whose name I don't recall) where Bogart plays a smuggler in Lebanon when the French were imposing price controls. At the end of the movie he redeems himself by getting killed. Objectively, his character was doing more good for others when he was smuggling in goods at above price control prices, but he was profiting....ewwwww!

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin said:

Australian scientist, environmentalist, author, and climate change activist Tim Flannery, in Here on Earth, argues that we are living in a immensely cooperative world, rather than in a survival-of-the-fittest, dog-eat-dog world.


Unfortuanately, that probably rings truer in Australia (and the rest of the industrialized world) than here in the United States. In the US, truer in California and Oregon than in Fitzwalkerstan.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin asked:

Another... you guys remember this?

Late in 2010 I said we'll be sorry someday for investing too much in Just In Time production and inventory methods.


I remember it. Of course it helps that I already agreed before you said so.

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

But Kant doesn't go this far. He stops at self sacrifice as the metric (though he makes a very passing concession that some pleasant benevolent acts are good).


Yeah, I can see how "The Fountainhead" would seem like a breath of fresh air in that context.

To me, there's something trustworthy about a statement from a person who isn't directly profiting by people following his direction. When someone says "We have to do X because of Y, and you can believe me because I'm not profiting by the suggestion," he means that he has the credibility of having no hidden reason to deceive. Not that profiting itself is an evil act.


For some examples of Kantian thought, see some old Bogart movies. Cassablanca is the most famous.


I'm having trouble seeing what is wrong about the outcome in Casablanca. Withoug spoiling too much for newbies--sure, he acts for the greater good instead of his own base desires, but is any other outcome either desirable or sustainable? I'd say he acted for the greater good AND reclaimed a bit of his soul at the same time. I'm not seeing your objection.

LarryHart said...

Carl M (at least I think this was you ) said on a different blog:

The market pays you to serve others. Produce a product people want, and they give you money. It’s a win-win situation. If you want people to serve other people, then you want markets. Greed gets directed to good behavior. This is the beauty of capitalism.


Yes! Exactly.

Capitalism is a wonderfully-engineered system for chanelling natural human impulses into beneficial directions.

It does not (as so many seem to think) that the engineering itself (that is, the governance mechanisms) is the problem. When one argues for unregulated markets, one is arguing AGAINST capitalism, because capitalism (like any other -ism) IS a system of regulation.

An internal combustion engine is a mechanism for chanelling energy toward a useful purpose. One would not think of arguing that a better result would come of letting the gasoline explode "freely" without the governing mechanism of the engine "interfering" with it. That's what arguments for unregulated markets sound like to me.

Carl M. said...

@LarryHart. Yes regarding your last comment. In fact, I wish libertarians would adopt the phrase "government as referee" vs. "night watchman." You want referees to be vigorous and have control over the game. However, you want referees to be enforcing rules which allow the game to proceed -- without getting bogged down in too many reviews and quibbles. Finally, you don't want the referees to be fielding a team of their own!

And that's what happens when the government gets into the business of government owned/chartered enterprises and loan guarantees, etc. The referees are fielding a team.

Regarding Cassablanca: it is not the best example, as the sacrifices of both protagonists do have overall positive consequences. I'm just not enough of a movie geek to dig through the descriptions of Bogart's other works to find the more blatant example. There was another movie of that era about the British dealing with the Mahdi in Egypt. Truly bad movie: stilted dialog with Kantian banalities. The British commander is humbled by the Mahdi's penchant for self-sacrifice.

----

Another example well worth looking up in your college library: Alfred Marshall's Principles of Economics. The introduction includes a lengthy apology for self-interest in the light of the Categorical Imperative.

Also worth reading: C.S. Lewis' space trilogy and The Screwtape Letters. The third volume of the space trilogy That Hideous Strength has villains with a startling resemblance to those in Atlas Shrugged. His heroes, however, are very different. In The Screwtape Letters his devil character explains the importance of promoting self-sacrifice over charity.

Finally have a look at the graph on my chapter on Charity vs. Sacrifice.

David Brin said...

Carl, I agree that Kant... and especially Hegel... were among the intellectual curses of the West. Though note that they were platonists, just like Rand, and bilious battles between platonists are still family spats among very closely inbred (deliverance?) cousins.

In any event, Bogart in CASABLANCA is said to have "been well paid" to have run guns to the goodguys in Spain. The wise rebel says "but the other side would have paid you more." Seriously. CASABLANCA is romantic, but hardly Kantian.

LarryHart nails the problem with the Randians who have taken over libertarianism. They are platonist mystics who believe markets "naturally" happen when you remove impediments imposed by mobs. Bull. Markets are always killed by oligarchic conniving, except when a citizenry (not mob) gets together to design and build a MACHINE called a free market.

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2006/06/allocation-vs-markets-ancient-struggle.html

The machine is overly complicated today because we don't know how! Making it up as we go, mixing laissez faire with state incentives and infrastructure and liberal enhancement of the competitive feedstock... Someday we'll get the libertarian dream by trimming the machine BECAUSE WE'LL KNOW MORE! If the machine's enemies don't win first.

Carl, you may mean Charlton Heston playing Gordon and Olivier playing the Mahdi in KHARTOUM.

You two are writing cool stuff.

Carl M. said...

Ah, but the lovers break apart for the cause in Casablanca if I recall correctly.

But I agree that Casablanca is not the most blatant example.

I don't think KHARTOUM is the movie I am thinking of. My recollection is of a black and white movie with the very stilted dialog of an earlier era, and I don't remember Charlton Heston in it. But it has been a long time so my memory could be faulty...

David Brin said...

Oh, and now this: ”Researchers at the University of Arizona, analyzed grains that the Stardust probe scooped up from Comet Wild 2's coma on a close flyby in 2004, sending the samples to Earth in a capsule two years later. After studying the comet dust using electron microscopy and X-ray analysis, the researchers found minerals that formed in the presence of liquid water.” Suggesting the comet’s nucleus underwent a period with liquid in its interior... as suggested in my novel HEART OF THE COMET. (Based on my doctoral thesis.) Melted in the early cloud by decaying Aluminum26. Trillions of such test tubes might have made... life?

Is there anybody still here who posts to the Earth predictions wiki for me?

We have three or four in just this round alone!

help!

Rob said...

Larry, I'm no Rand fan; I think she chose a polar opposite of Communist ideals for her fabulism, and dressed it as only a demagogue can.

But, what kind of predictive power do you possess to prove that gold is likely to be accepted as currency by future humans? You can't eat it, it has no structural advantages (it's not steel or wood), and its usefulness in electronics is only realized at the relative pinnacle of a complex civilization.

As a token of exchanging food, shelter, fuel, what have you, gold is merely very convenient, thus, fiat. Mansa Musa's pilgrimage through Cairo showed that it doesn't behave differently than a Euro or a Dollar.

David Brin said...

http://www.visionofhumanity.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/U.S-Peace-Index-2011-Map.pdf

http://www.visionofhumanity.org/wp-
content/uploads/2011/04/U.S-Peace-
Index-2011-Map.pdf

New York and California and Illinois have an excuse... dense cities and lots of immigrants and urban poor and drugs... so the red/blue disparity is even worse than it looks.

So much for moral superiority.

Carl M. said...

While you are in neener dance mode, the top 10 most segregated cities:

http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/03/29/most_segregated_cities

Robert said...

And now for something on a non-political note.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/109036-Astronaut-Gives-Out-Of-This-World-Space-Concert

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/
109036-Astronaut-Gives-Out-Of-This-World-Space-Concert

This is just crazyawesome. :)

Rob H.

David Brin said...

cool! sent to my flutist daughter.

Carl, the URL ran off the right margin. darn blogger.

David Brin said...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42460168/from/RSS/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42460168/
from/RSS/

Tony Fisk said...

I'll see about updating the wiki in the next day or two. (Although, if you've forgotten your password, you could just ask for a new one ;-)

I also want to add the mammoth resurrection reference, since I recently saw a serious proposal along these lines (plus, it's an excuse to pointedly reference Flannery!)

wrt volcanoes affecting weather. While they do, and there were, I thought the recent upsets were due to kinks in the jetstreams resulting from the quiet sun.

Tony Fisk said...

Democrats want compromise, while Republicans want resolve, eh?

Negotiating with Overton window pushers is like playing tug-of-war with a ratchet.

Robert said...

And more in the science news, we may have discovered a new subatomic particle:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42459387/ns/technology_and_science-science/

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42459387/ns/
technology_and_science-science/

"In a development physicists are calling "huge," "tantalizing" and "unexpected," researchers have measured a signal that could herald a new kind of particle or force of nature.

But the finding is not yet conclusive, and leaves many researchers skeptical.

The discovery comes from an atom smasher called the Tevatron at the Fermilab physics laboratory in Batavia, Ill. Inside the accelerator there, particles are ramped up to near the speed of light as they race around a 4-mile ring. When two particles collide, they disintegrate into other exotic particles in a powerful outpouring of energy."

Rob H.

David Brin said...

It demonstrates my case. Culture War is not about left versus right. It is at one level a struggle of PERSONALITY TYPES.

At another it is about future vs past.

At another is is a flat-out attempted oligarchic putsch.

There is a regional element... and the War on Smartypants is also about caste. And Jonathan Haidt's "five axes of morality" are definitely involved.

But above all it is personality. Dems are willing to negotiate and unwilling to call their countrymen evil.

Sam Houston said something (anybody) about how the northerners would be slower to provoke and cooler in temperament, but resolute and unstoppable, when fully roused.

Also said this:

"I declare that civil war is inevitable and is near at hand. When it comes the descendants of the heros of Lexington and Bunker Hill will be found equal in patriotism, courage and heroic endurance with the descendants of the heroes of Cowpens and Yorktown. For this reason I predict the civil war which is now at hand will be stubborn and of long duration."

Except a third of the men at Yorktown were northerners and another third were French!

Tony Fisk said...

From B5: in 'Severed Dreams' Sheridan received the following advice from his father:

'Don't ever be the first to start a fight, but always be the one that ends it'

Tim H. said...

Did not find the quote, but this was interesting:
http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/exhibits/presidents/houston2/later.html
Sam Houston was opposed to secession, and took heat from fellow southerners for it. Got to take folks on an individual basis, even red-staters. ;)

Jonathan S. said...

From B5: in 'Severed Dreams' Sheridan received the following advice from his father:

'Don't ever be the first to start a fight, but always be the one that ends it'


My father's version, passed to me when I was but a wee lad, was, "Never throw the first punch. Just make sure you throw the last one."

Carl M. said...

Try again with an html tag. Most segregated cities.

David Brin said...

Sorry Jonathan, but Tony's dad was more flexible. You might "end" a fight by throwing the last punch...

...or by being the peacemaker! Or by following Sun Tzu and leaving your enemy no option but surrender. The important thing is that "you be the one to end it" means ending it on your terms.

Thanks for the wiki update Tony!

Yep Carl, Blue America has some statistics of shame, too. But segregation by city will naturally emphasize... um... cities. Ever look at segregated counties in Mississippi and Alabama?

Sociotard said...

New York and California and Illinois have an excuse... dense cities and lots of immigrants and urban poor and drugs... so the red/blue disparity is even worse than it looks.

A) I also notice how some very Red states are extremely peaceful by their standard. My own Idaho did quite nicely, and Utah made it into the top ten.

B) I have to quibble about their criteria. Items 1 through 3 are fine (homicides, violent crimes, and jailed population per 100,000 people). 4 is questionable (number of cops per 100,000), and 5 is stupid.

Availability of Small Arms? Seriously? Everyone in my family shoots. It's fun. Even looking at that as a criteria shows their bias.

What's next, look to number of times violent movies get netflixed by population and area? Yeesh.

Ian said...

"The only difference is that gold is likely to be accepted by future human beings than is any particular paper currency."

A quick anecdote: during WWII the Japanese army in Nuigini issued "scrip" to pay for goods they requisitioned and to pay Nuiginians for services delivered.

Decades later that scrip was still circulating in the Nuigini highlands.

So long as people were prepared to accept it as payment, it didn't matter that the government that originally guaranteed it no longer existed.

LarryHart said...

Rob:

Larry, I'm no Rand fan; I think she chose a polar opposite of Communist ideals for her fabulism, and dressed it as only a demagogue can.

But, what kind of predictive power do you possess to prove that gold is likely to be accepted as currency by future humans?


No predictive power whatsoever, other than past performance.

My claim is that the reason the gold standard always rears its head is because its possessors EXPECT it to function as money in any future situation they might find themselves in. Whether it actually WILL so function is a separate issue.


As a token of exchanging food, shelter, fuel, what have you, gold is merely very convenient, thus, fiat. Mansa Musa's pilgrimage through Cairo showed that it doesn't behave differently than a Euro or a Dollar.


I'm mostly agreeing with you. I'm not trying to advocate FOR gold, but merely to explain why I think otherwise-rational people believe things like "Gold represents objective value."

Because of the debt, neocon think tanks are able to make a case that the dollar will soon devalue (Paul Krugman does an excellent job of explaining why that's not happening). The thing is, the dollar's demise has been wrongly predicted so often that I no longer worry about it happening in the 30 or so years I've got left on this earth. A few years ago, it looked as if conversion to Euros or Pounds or even Canadian Dollars would have been a good idea, but none of that seems to be working out. In the late 1980s (about the time Dr Brin was writing "Earth"), Kurt Vonnegut's "Hocus Pocus" credibly predicted a near-future time when the dollar was hyperinflated and people wanted/expected to be paid in Japanese Yen. That didn't happen either. The fiat-dollar is incredibly resilient after all.

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

@LarryHart. Yes regarding your last comment. In fact, I wish libertarians would adopt the phrase "government as referee" vs. "night watchman." You want referees to be vigorous and have control over the game. However, you want referees to be enforcing rules which allow the game to proceed -- without getting bogged down in too many reviews and quibbles. Finally, you don't want the referees to be fielding a team of their own!


Or betting on the outcome.


And that's what happens when the government gets into the business of government owned/chartered enterprises and loan guarantees, etc. The referees are fielding a team.


It's also what happens when private businesses invest in politicians who rig the game. "Citizens United" essentially ruled that the team owners have every right to be referees.


Regarding Cassablanca: it is not the best example, as the sacrifices of both protagonists do have overall positive consequences. I'm just not enough of a movie geek to dig through the descriptions of Bogart's other works to find the more blatant example.


Then we're not in disagreement. I wasn't contesting your larger point about a worship of self-sacrifice. I was just saying that "Casablanca" didn't seem an egregious example.


Also worth reading: C.S. Lewis' space trilogy and The Screwtape Letters. The third volume of the space trilogy That Hideous Strength has villains with a startling resemblance to those in Atlas Shrugged. His heroes, however, are very different.


I have read the trilogy several times. One thing that stood out my first time is that the generational argument between older traditional women and modern feminists was already taking place in 1946--when my mother was 12 years old!

Tacitus2 said...

Still a lot of politics here in Badgerland but the weather is glorious and I am not in the mood for contentiousness today.

LarryHart and Carl

I agree on C S Lewis. That Hideous Strength in particular has a chapter, The Descent of the Gods, that is imho among the best word alchemy I have ever encountered. I have read it several times.

Meanwhile...

How's that Uplift Workin' out?

Tacitus2
DetritusofEmpire

Abilard said...

"Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South." - Sam Houston. [Wikipedia (though it was also in Ken Burns Civil War series)]

David Brin said...

Still funny:
http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/04/glenn-beck-fox-news-brain-chart

David Brin said...

Abilard thx for the Sam Houston quotation.
Tacitus, that dog owner deserves to have same done to him.

I agree that calling gun ownership "not peaceful"... while probably a fair statement, is also politically biased and tendentious.

Rob said...

A bit of the Wisconsin-mania has come to Washington, and I was caught in the middle of some of it today. While quietly lobbying with Stand for Children in Senators' offices about cuts to K-12 eduction, the members of the SEIU state workers' unions started camping under the rotunda. Education, you see, had to be funded on the backs of those workers, and now they're on strike and yellin' in the Capitol.

Thanks a metric ton million, there, Governor Walker.

Tyler August said...

Rob said...
With respect to the gold standard, I don't see anything less of a fiat to it; one has to declare that gold is the standard, just as one would have to declare that "the dollar" is a standard, or "the euro", or "the kilocalorie" One could just as arbitrarily declare that the buttons on my Sunday suit were now money.

Kilocalorie, you say? I think we're onto something: that's not fiat! It's probably the only thing that isn't. Energy is the ability to do physical work; money is the ability to do economic work. I'd say it's a perfect fit!
An energy-backed currency would have the additional side-benefit of forcing economists to recognize the laws of thermodynamics. There's actually quite a lot I can see that would recommend the idea.
Of course, implementing an energy currency is quite a bit harder than even goldbuggism, but I like it. I like it a lot, especially since you just tossed it out there.

Carl M said...
Finally, you don't want the referees to be fielding a team of their own!

What if nobody else will play?
(see, for example, the history of the Ontario Northland Railway for example -- the mineral and timber resources of Northern Ontario have repaied that investment, which no private firm would make, thousands of times over)

To continue the analogy, I see a lot of benefits with putting the ref in charge of building and repairing the stadium.

To bring the analogy in the other direction, which has better competition: the NFL or MLB?
In baseball, teams keep all their earnings; the Yankees make the most because they win the most, so they hire the best players... and, I don't follow baseball, but in any given year if I bet the Yankees are in the World Series I have a depressingly high chance of being right. In football, league earnings from things like TV are split evenly betwixt all teams, which creates a much more level playing field, and a much more dynamic game. Interesting, non?

David Brin said...

Mine an asteroid. Cause gold to crash. Yum

Rob said...

I can't take credit for the KC, Tyler. I first saw it in A Matter For Men, David Gerrold's as-yet-unfinished magnum opus.

That man writes deeply difficult books that I usually want to read.

Robert said...

How odd that thousands of Republican votes suddenly turn up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election, returning to office a man who will back Walker's anti-Union efforts and likely deny court-borne efforts to stop Walker's attacks on public unions.

http://www.startribune.com/nation/119448384.html

Rob H.

rewinn said...

Well Rob, it could be mere incompetence. Doesn't every elections official maintain a private, secret system for counting up the votes?

Or it could be a Don Siegelmann case all over again.

Let's hope the voters of Wisconsin demand the truth. The election was insanely close, and it could come down either way ... that's politics. But without an indestructible audit trail, we'll never know.

Incidently, this race shows the insanity of treating money as speech in a democracy. Courts are supposed to be somehow purely, more above politics, but this race turned into a battle between people writing big checks. That can't be good for confidence in the legal system.

David Brin said...

Prrof that the democractic party must already be suborned or blackmailed... they haven't made an issue of the Diebold machines.

Robert said...

Or that it's a stalking horse, with the Democrats knowing of the flaws, having their own agents ready to pounce the moment that the agents controlling Diebold act crooked, and the other side knows this and thus a Mexican Standoff has commenced with no crime being committed because it would instantly be spilled....

Rob H.

Ian said...

What do people make of the news coming out of Fermilab?

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20357-mystery-signal-at-fermilab-hints-at-technicolour-force.html

Thats
http://www.newscientist.com/article

/dn20357-mystery-signal-at-

fermilab-hints-at-technicolour-

force.html

David Brin said...

Robert, if the dems are suborned (how else to explain blithering political incompetence?) then there is no standoff. Diebold can do whatever it likes.

The Fermilab stuff is.... eeeenteresting.

paper cup making machine said...

A bit of the Wisconsin-mania has come to Washington, and I was caught in the middle of some of it today. While quietly lobbying with Stand for Children in Senators' offices about cuts to K-12 eduction, the members of the SEIU state workers' unions started camping under the rotunda. Education, you see, had to be funded on the backs of those workers, and now they're on strike and yellin' in the Capitol.

Here's hoping heads of state can lead the way to a peaceful resolution to the Helvetian situation and other diseses.

If the Martians were to steal all senior managers there would be a short period of chaos then other people would move into those positions and things would go on as usual
(cynically I think – better than usual)

LarryHart said...

Rob:

A bit of the Wisconsin-mania has come to Washington, and I was caught in the middle of some of it today.


More than a little.

They're about to shut the government down, not (any longer) over the size of the budget, but over the EPA and Planned Parenthood. It's effing ironic that the Tea-Baggers think of themselves as the adults in the room, when their strategy is "We'll hold our breath until we turn blue!"

But the thing that got me yesterday, also somewhat Wisconsin-related, was the gushing praise of Congressman Paul Ryan's (R-Fitzwalkerstan) "plan" to save money by turning Medicare into a stipend toward seniors' premiums to private insurance. Since this plan is advocated by opponents of "Obamacare", I have to presume that it has no provisions that private insurers have to ACCEPT seniors, or that they can't be refused for pre-existing conditions or dropped once they get sick. So there's no point saving for retirement, because if I ever leave my job, I'll probably be medically bankrupt, no matter how much is in my 401k.

I wrote both my Senators from Illinois yesterday (Dick Durbin-D and Mark Kirk-R, both pretty influential) and implored them not to vote for this travesty. I signed off on the letter to the Republican Kirk with "Keep your government hands off my Medicare!"

CulturalEngineer said...

Great points and proposal!

But the bigger question is how can we create systems, technologies, etc... so that we don't need to rely on a hoped-for goodwill from leaders?

Actually, you've already answered it:

"Reciprocal accountability—freeing individuals to hold each other accountable—is the only truly long term solution to predation."

And re the "Altruism Problem"...

From arXiv this morning:

Interstellar Predation Could Explain Fermi Paradox

People need to understand that the root of biological altruism is about where the line is between in-group and out-group... being nice to the other guy is about which side of the line you're on!

LarryHart said...

Can we move up that Rapture date, pleeeeease? May 20 isn't soon enough. The Republicans have to be taken up NOW!

They "found" the votes Walker's crony needed to win the election? Seriously? We're not even pretending that Wisconsin is a democracy any more? And to keep the government/referee analogy going, the "winning" referee explicity campaigned on being in favor of one of the competing teams. And since that team's owners were able to finance his campaign, he won?

This is not what George Washington and company fought for. I want my country back!

LarryHart said...

Sorry...too upset to finish my thoughts correctly.

To keep ANOTHER discussion going here, the Rand-loving Tea-Partying Republicans have apparently accepted Kantian notions of value:

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/04/ta040711.html

http://www.americanprogress.org/
issues/2011/04/ta040711.html


Weisberg has done his old colleagues like Charles Krauthammer, Fred Barnes, and Morton Kondracke one better here, however, by getting on board with a plan so heartless toward the poor and indigent that even Ronald Regan and George W. Bush never dared propose anything like it.

Weisberg appears to know a bit of this. He admits that the “brave, radical, and smart” plan he so admires is full of “sleight-of-hand tricks” and would not actually come close to eliminating the deficit in the coming decade, “leaving $400 billion in annual deficits as far as the eye can see.”


So, the Ryan plan is "serious" because it has the "courage" to inflict pain on senior citizens. NO MATTER THAT IT DOESN'T ACTUALLY ADDRESS THE DEFICIT? The point is that it hurts people, so it's good?

I can't friggin' WAIT for the Rapture to take these people away.

Rob said...

@LarryHart -- I shouldn't have to affix the word "State" when I talk about Washington. That other place is "D.C." I was in Olympia, not D.C.

LarryHart said...

Rob:

"That other place" was named first. :)

Still, that doesn't invalidate what I THOUGHT you meant. Fitzwalkerstan politics ARE invading DC as well. It's like some kind of antibiotic-resistant epidemic.

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart

You might, possibly, be getting a little more exercised over the WI SC election than you should. I realize that the progressive blogosphere was billing this as a groundswell of support for the protests in Madison. Well, with a roughly 50:50 split of votes that is clearly not the case.

The votes in Waukesha county? If you were obsessively following the returns, say via the Althouse blog, it was clear by about 11:30 pm that a huge block of votes in that rather R leaning region were not reported. The precincts went fully “closed” and the vote total did not budge. The local Democratic party has looked at the numbers and is not crying foul.

It is possible that the vote tally, and remember these were actual votes cast by real citizens, was delayed a bit for dramatic effect. But the rather clueless county clerk did not look up to that sort of thing.

Speaking of clueless, the Kloppenberg faction, oy! Never claim victory in a race where you lead by a handful of votes in an unofficial return. And, when your candidate appears to have a skimpy lead, never start trashing any talk of voting irregularities. The D faction just looks witless here.

Lets face it, Kloppenberg was a second stringer as a candidate. A substantial number of people wanted her into a ten year term to act as a partisan voice, never mind that she seems, based on what I have seen of her, somewhat dim. Exactly the sort of thing progressives deride in for instance Clarence Thomas.

We will have a recount. It is even possible that K might pull ahead, it depends on how the absentee ballots were handled. This seems a fertile ground for D pols of late, and I am not sure if they are in yet. But you have to broaden your perspectives a bit. Is it just possible that the fury in Madison was not in fact representative of the WI electorate?

Perhaps, “This is what Democracy Looks Like” ?

I am not trying to sound like a scold or to gloat, but when the world seems to be operating contrary to your expectations you should examine both the workings of the world and your expectations.

Tacitus2

Detritus of Empire

Jacob said...

Internet Voting could (in several decades) resolve most Voting Fraud.

Imagine...
-Everyone is issued a private code each election #########.
-They vote publicly on the Internet such that everyone can see ######### has voted for A-Z.
-Internet based voting is Locked 1 week before Voting-In-Person closes.
-If you vote in person it automatically nullifies the internet vote.

The system is setup to be Transparent and Private. It would supplement rather than replace voting in person. Create big penalties for those that would invade another's privacy.

There are so many positive ramifications to a setup like this. Forget bogus political speculation, why don't we see who is currently winning?

I'd like to hear some negative ramifications, but be a good sport and suggest potential fixes to your own problem too.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus:

I'm much, Much, MUCH more worked up about Ryan's medicare proposal than I am about the Kloppenberg election. They just happened to come at the same time.

While I check Paul Krugman and "The Nation" as often as this blog, I'm not regularly tuned into the "blogosphere" as such. I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to hear it was close enough to recount, but was never thinking that K's win was assured or anything.

If Prosser has to win, at least it's good to hear the votes were real. I'd still feel more secure about voting systems (not just Wisconsin, but everywhere) if they weren't counted by proprietary software that relies on "trust me" as verification. Especially now that it's clear that (related to an ongoing analogy on this thread) the referees have a vested interest in the game's outcome.

I WILL put it to you that, no matter who wins, the closeness of the election should demonstrate that the Walker faction's claim to be doing what the people want is weak. In fact, I'd say that any Republicans making that argument have to accept that President Obama can credibly make the same claim.

LarryHart said...

One more thing, Tac,

I'm really not trying to pick a fight with you. I take you at your word about the "found" votes being legitimate, and actually feel a bit better if that's true.

I gotta say, though:

Speaking of clueless, the Kloppenberg faction, oy! Never claim victory in a race where you lead by a handful of votes in an unofficial return. And, when your candidate appears to have a skimpy lead, never start trashing any talk of voting irregularities. The D faction just looks witless here.


It worked for George W Bush.

Abilard said...

LarryHart said - "One more thing, Tac, I'm really not trying to pick a fight with you."

No, go ahead. Pick a fight with him. The dude dresses his dogs up as Star Wars characters. How bad can he be?

You realize how ticked their uplifted descendants are going be? PETA is nothing by comparison.

Doug said...

Speaking as a network engineer who has managed several NOCs and held engineering positions at multiple ISPs, Internet-based voting just isn't a good idea. Spoofing, DDOS attack on infrastructure, man-in-the-middle intercepts, social engineering to harvest ID/passwords -- the 'net just isn't secure and reliable enough, nor are most users savvy enough, to be used for such a critical task.

Also, I don't want my vote traceable to me, personally, anywhere. If that information can be extracted, at some point it will, and be used by employers, bureaucrats, and thugs to control your vote. We live in relatively civil times now, in the past, such pressures were used extensively by powermongers.

Sociotard said...

New chapter of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is up.

Robert said...

Just had to comment concerning the following remark:

Fitzwalkerstan politics ARE invading DC as well. It's like some kind of antibiotic-resistant epidemic

The irony is that researchers have recently discovered that something in the brains of cockroaches and other "pest" insects kill off the antibiotic-resistant diseases. They're now researching to find which enzymes are responsible for this, and we'll soon (in 10 or so years) have insect-based antibiotics that can knock out the resistant strains.

So. Cockroach-based antibiotics to kill off the political cockroaches? =^-^=

Rob H.

mowsi: The feline equivalent to "mumsie"

Jonathan S. said...

Well, it's official.

Just checked the mid-month pay statement, and since the last stopgap spending bill didn't allocate enough funds to DoD personnel needs, the main paycheck for this household has been cut nearly in half.

We can pay the mortgage or the member's car payment, not both. (And the car is financed through Chase, which seems to really want to repo it on the slightest excuse...) And we can either buy gas for the military member to get to his (soon to be unpaid) job, or buy groceries to feed two special-needs children, along with that member and two disabled adults (who apparently are too disabled to work, but not badly enough off to get any state support, especially in Washington).

Republicans, if this is what you think of as "being on the hardworking taxpayer's side", could you please get off my side? Much more "support" like this and we're all dead!

David Brin said...

Two problems with the simpleminded "predation" Fermi explanation. (Which Hawking also pushed in his TV show.)

1) Earthlike planets advertise that they are life-bearing and have oceans, simply from their atmospheric spectra. That is plenty enough to say "resources."

2) Anyway, the asteroid belt looks to be untouched. After 4 billion years. That's a lot of resources.

Mind you competition is certainly a top Fermi hypothesis and one reason I oppose "messages" till w know more.

===
Thanks Tacitus. I suspected in was just a deep red county reporting in late. Still, after the 2000 race, I am convinced that our elections are "tweaked" whenever certain powers think they can get away with it.

"I WILL put it to you that, no matter who wins, the closeness of the election should demonstrate that the Walker faction's claim to be doing what the people want is weak."

Especially since Prosser got votes from people who just don't want judge votes to be political.

No! Tacitus... tell me it ain't so! YOU are the star wars dog guy? We are in the presence of fame and glory guys!

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Especially since Prosser got votes from people who just don't want judge votes to be political.


Conservatives only CLAIM to be against judicial activism when it's "liberal" activism. Judicial activism in the pursuit of corporatism is (apparently) no vice. After "Citizens United", conservatives can hardly pretend to be against judicial activism per se.

LarryHart said...


No! Tacitus... tell me it ain't so! YOU are the star wars dog guy? We are in the presence of fame and glory guys!


I wasn't clear whether he dressed the dogs himself, or just collected and posted photos.

David Brin said...

For those of you know know people who are too cynical...

http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/rc/b527/

Ian said...

Would we even recognize alien artifacts?

Maybe some of those brown dwarfs we're finding are Dyson spheres around white dwarfs.

Maybe Hot Jupiters are massive solar collectors.

And as for past minign activities in our solar system, would we necessarily even recognize the signs?

How do we know somebody didn't strip off much of Jupiter's original atmosphere a couple of billion years ago?

A quick question: would all the space junk in Earth orbit (not the relatively small (500,000-odd) large pieces but the countless millions of smaller pieces be sufficient to alter our spectrographic signature?

I remember years ago someone (Asimov) suggested putting a cloud of Technetium or another element that doesn't occur in nature nature into a close solar orbit as a cheap way to signal our existence.

Jacob said...

Hi Doug,

I recognize the potential failings of security. That is why I have the built in safety feature of locking the votes in a week before the election. This gives everyone the opportunity to ensure their own vote isn't being changed. They can also correct the problem by voting in person while notifying the authorities of the crime.

Our current system doesn't and has its own security failings. I have acted as head of 3 voting precincts in multiple elections.

In regards to people using your vote against you. I don't see it as realistically happening any more than the current system where I'm able to get a list of which ballots people have pulled in primaries. More Transparency and crippling penalties are the answer in either system.

Tacitus2 said...

I cannot claim credit for the work of another. In fact, currently dogless.

As to picking a fight with me..

(cue James Earl Jones)
"If only you could feel the Power of the Bark Side"
(uncue JEJ)

Tacitus2

Tim H. said...

Entertaining comment about WI electoral politics here:
http://www.ginandtacos.com/2011/04/08/banana-republic/
Seems the election clerk who discovered those votes uses her personal PC, not county owned machines,
to keep the counties election records on. That ought to inspire confidence.

David Brin said...

onward

Rabin Gurung said...

Welcome to Buna Treks
BUNA "The Best & Unique Nepal Adventure" Company was founded by a group of dynamic Nepalese Tourism Professionals. This company has led countless adventures throughout various Himalayan destinations, which have included India, Tibet and Bhutan. With two decades of experience of organizing adventure trekking, and leisure trips tailor-made for families, schools and corporate executives, we can offer you quality equipment, excellent food that will add harmony in your Himalayan adventure
Trekking in Nepal
Trekking Company in Nepal
Everest base camp trekking
Annapurna base camp trekking
Manaslu Circuit trekking
Upper mustang trekking
Kangjunga trekking
Annapurna Circuit Trekking

Rabin Gurung said...

Welcome to Buna Treks
BUNA "The Best & Unique Nepal Adventure" Company was founded by a group of dynamic Nepalese Tourism Professionals. This company has led countless adventures throughout various Himalayan destinations, which have included India, Tibet and Bhutan. With two decades of experience of organizing adventure trekking, and leisure trips tailor-made for families, schools and corporate executives, we can offer you quality equipment, excellent food that will add harmony in your Himalayan adventure
Trekking in Nepal
Trekking Company in Nepal
Everest base camp trekking
Annapurna base camp trekking
Manaslu Circuit trekking
Upper mustang trekking
Kangjunga trekking
Annapurna Circuit Trekking

Rabin Gurung said...

Welcome to Buna Treks
BUNA "The Best & Unique Nepal Adventure" Company was founded by a group of dynamic Nepalese Tourism Professionals. This company has led countless adventures throughout various Himalayan destinations, which have included India, Tibet and Bhutan. With two decades of experience of organizing adventure trekking, and leisure trips tailor-made for families, schools and corporate executives, we can offer you quality equipment, excellent food that will add harmony in your Himalayan adventure
Trekking in Nepal
Trekking Company in Nepal
Everest base camp trekking
Annapurna base camp trekking
Manaslu Circuit trekking
Upper mustang trekking
Kangjunga trekking
Annapurna Circuit Trekking

Encounters Nepal said...

Encounters Nepal Dot Com is an ethically governed and environmentally aware Trekking & Adventure Tour Operator. The company exists to promote and share with others the diverse geographical beauty as well as the cultural wealth of our homeland, Nepal, as well as that of some of our neighbours, such as Tibet and Bhutan. Predominantly, it is the mighty Himalayan ranges that attract visitors from all over the world to Nepal. Upon arrival, guests to our country are then also captivated by the interplay of the majestic mountainous landscapes with the overriding hospitality of the Nepali people. Our rich spiritual life and our many vibrantly joyous customs are born of the melding of the Hindu and Buddhist cultures which have co existed here side by side for centuries. This adds a mystical dimension to most travelers’ experiences in Nepal. It is this interplay of magnificent landscapes, of friendly and welcoming people from many different ethnic backgrounds and the complex, beautiful overlay of religious rites and cultural practices that make a sojourn in Nepal.
Trekking in Nepal
Everest Base Camp Trekking
Annapurna Circuit trekking
Upper Dolpo trekking
Manaslu Circuit trekking
Kanchenjunga base camp Trekking
Mansarovar Kailash Shiva Parbat Yatra

TrekNp said...

Adventure Great Himalaya is a government registered Trekking company in Nepal. comprised of qualified and experienced professional Nepal Trekking Agency. Adventure Great Himalaya has provided thousands of high quality trekking and tours trips for clients from all over the world. If your interest lies in Trekking In Nepal, Peak climbing, Tours in Nepal and River rafting or cultural sightseeing, our professional and knowledgeable staff is available to make your stay comfortable and memorable. Leave your worries to us and enjoy your holidays in Nepal.
trekking company in Nepal
Trekking Agency in Nepal
Trekking in Nepal
Everest base camp trek
Annapurna base camp trek
manaslu Circuit Trekking
Peak Climbing in Nepal
Langtang Valley Trek
Upper Mustang
Kanchanjunga Trekking

Sappa Tamang said...

Namaste and welcome to Nepal Base Camp Treks!!!

Nepal Base Camp Treks is one of the best trekking agencies in Nepal. We operate fantastic trekking, mountaineering, peak climbing, jungle safari and tours packages in various must-go tourist destinations of Nepal and our neighboring countries Bhutan and Tibet. So, don’t bother searching for a reliable and excellent trekking operator in Nepal coz Nepal Base Camp Treks Pvt. Ltd. is already with you.
Everest Base Camp Treks
Trekking in Nepal
Trekking Company in Nepal
Annapurna base camp Treks
Manaslu circuit trek
Everest trekking
Annapurna circuit Treks
Langtang Valley Trekking
Upper Mustang Trekking
Kanchanjunga Trekking
Trekking Guide in Nepal
Peak Climbing in Nepal
Package tour in Nepal

Rabin Gurung said...

Adventure Mountain Guide Team has been a leader in providing high country Travels and adventure activities Trekking in Nepal, 'www.adventuremountainguide.net' organizes Adventure Trekking, Peak Climbing, Package tours and river rafting for groups and individuals from all walks of life. We can assure that flexible design any program or package to suit your interest, schedule, fitness level and budget travels Service. Our highly experienced and professional Working team will be always ready to provide you the best of all trekking and tours services in Nepal.
Trekking in Nepal
Trekking Guide in Nepal
Everest Base Camp Trekking
Annapurna base camp trekking
Manaslu Circuit Trekking
Upper Mustang Trekking
Kanchanjunga trekking
Upper Dolpo Trekking
Ghorepani Poonhill Trekking
Langtang Valley Trekking
Peak Climbing in Nepal
Island Peak Climbing
Mera Peak Climbing
Annapurna Circuit Trekking

Rabin Gurung said...

Adventure Mountain Guide Team has been a leader in providing high country Travels and adventure activities Trekking in Nepal, 'www.adventuremountainguide.net' organizes Adventure Trekking, Peak Climbing, Package tours and river rafting for groups and individuals from all walks of life. We can assure that flexible design any program or package to suit your interest, schedule, fitness level and budget travels Service. Our highly experienced and professional Working team will be always ready to provide you the best of all trekking and tours services in Nepal.
Trekking in Nepal
Trekking Guide in Nepal
Everest Base Camp Trekking
Annapurna base camp trekking
Manaslu Circuit Trekking
Upper Mustang Trekking
Kanchanjunga trekking
Upper Dolpo Trekking
Ghorepani Poonhill Trekking
Langtang Valley Trekking
Peak Climbing in Nepal
Island Peak Climbing
Mera Peak Climbing
Annapurna Circuit Trekking

Himalayan Mountain Guide said...

For more than a decade, HimalayanMountainGuide.com has been a leader in providing high country holidays and adventure activities in Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India. ‘HMG’ organizes Expeditions and Treks for groups and individuals from all walks of life. We can design any program or package to suit your interest, schedule, fitness level and budget. Our organizing skills are as flexible as the mountains we escort you to.
Trekking guide in Nepal
freelance trekking in nepal
everest base camp trekking
trekking in nepal
peak climbing in nepal
island peak climbing in nepal
Mera peak climbing in nepal
labuche peak climbing in nepal
package tour in Nepal
Climbing guide in nepal

Eva Andressa said...

Annapurna base camp Trekking , hiking
The Annapurna Sanctuary is “high glacial basin lying forty km directly north of Pokhara. This oval-shaped plateau sits at an altitude of over 4000 metres, and is surrounded by a ring of mountains, the Annapurna range, most of which are over 7000 metres.With the only entrance a narrow pass between the peaks of Hiunchuli and Machapuchare, where run-off from glaciers drain into Modi Khola River, the Sanctuary was not penetrated by outsiders until 1956. Because of high mountains on all sides, the Annapurna Sanctuary receives only 7 hours of sunlight a day at the height of summer. The unique combination of heights and depths in the Annapurna Sanctuary give rise to an extraordinary variety of ecosystems. The south-facing slopes are “covered in dense tropical jungles of rhododendron and bamboo”, while the north-facing slopes, in the rain shadow, have “a drier colder climate similar to that of the near-by Tibetan Plateau.”
The entire sanctuary was held as sacred to the Gurung people, one of the many native people to inhabit the area. They believed it was the repository of gold and various treasures left by the Nāgas, the serpent-gods known in India. The sanctuary was believed to be the home of several deities, from Hinduism and Buddhism as well the older animistic gods. The peak of Machapuchare at the entrance was believed to be the home of the god Shiva, and the daily plumes of snow were thought the smoke of his divine incense. Until recently, the local Gurung people forbade anyone from bringing eggs or meat into the Annapurna Sanctuary, and women and untouchables were prohibited from going there as well.
In recent years, the number of trekkers to the Sanctuary has increased substantially, in part because the Sanctuary forms the base of one of the major routes to the peaks of the Annapurna range. The Annapurna Sanctuary is now part of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project, which places restrictions on number of outside travelers, gathering of firewood, and domestic animal grazing.
Annapurna base camp Itinerary:
Day 01: Fly/ drive Kathmandu to Pokhara.
Day 02:Drive to Nayapul,Trek to Tikhedhunga (1540)
Day 03: Trek to Ghorepani (2855m)
Day 04: Trek to Tadapani.(2590m)
Day 05: Trek to Chomrong (2170m)
Day 06: Trek to Himalaya Hotel (2900m)
Day 07: Himalaya Hotel to Machhapuchhre Base Camp (MBC) (3700m)
Day 08: MBC -Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) & back to MBC or Deurali.
Day 09: MBC/Deurali to Bamboo (2500m)
Day 10: Bamboo to Chomorong. (2170m)
Day 11: Chomorong to Ghandruk (1940m)
Day 12: Ghandruk to Tolkha. (1710m)
Day 13: Tolkha to Dhampus. (1510m)
Day 14: Dhampus to Pokhara. (820m)
http://www.nepalguideinfo.com
http://www.hikehimalayas.com
Email-:sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com

Web Master said...

Adventure Trek Nepal Paradise Trekking Guide Co-operitive has been a leader in providing high country Travels and adventure activities Trekking in Nepal, Tibet, 'Treknp.com' organizes Trekking Peak , hiking, tours and river rafting for groups and individuals from all walks of life. We can assure that flexible design any program or package to suit your interest, schedule, fitness level and budget travels Service. Our organizing skills are as flexible as the mountains we escort you to.
Trekking in Nepal
Trekking company in nepal
Everest Base Camp Trekking
Annapurna base Camp Trekking
Ghorepani Poonhill trekking
manaslu Circuit trekking
Upper Mustang Trekking
Mera Peak Climbing
Island Peak Climbing
Langtang Valley Trekking
Package tour in Nepal

Boundless Adventure said...

Trekking in Nepal is delighted to welcome to you tiny but amazing country in Nepal. When you will have boundless adventures, there are attraction sharing and memorable in your life. Nepal trekking company, found by the team of enthusiastic and the trekking specialists is devoted to impart you a fondest memory during your Nepal holiday with us. We have been serving not here in Nepal only, also in Tibet, India and Bhutan as well. No matter, what type of trip you choose in Nepal. Either Nepal trekking, rafting and cannoning, Nepal Tour , mountaineering, Nepal Peak Climbing , jungle safaris and Nepal trekking activities. Nepal traveling with us is more than just a brief to stay somewhere; it is a real connection with the people, the unique countryside, distinctive culture, the Nepali cuisine, the environment and the flora and fauna of the country. Nepal tea house trekking offering for small trekking groups and big trekking groups. We are offering you, as your choice trekking service as well. You will find out our Nepal trekking guide will be the warm hospitality and government trended license to lead the Nepal historical place And Nepal Himalayan ranges .
For more details click on the below links:
Trekking in Nepal
Nepal Trekking
Everest Trekking
Everest Base Camp Trekking
Annapurna Trekking
Langtang Valley Trekking
Mustang Trekking
Manaslu Trekking
Nepal Hiking
Nepal Tour
Nepal Helicopter tour
Nepal Peak Climbing
Everest Three Pass Trekking

Dharel Ajay said...

Welcome you all to World Sight Journey, a Nepal-based travel operator offering world class trekking and touring services!
Established a decade ago, World Sight Journey has been specializing in providing premier trekking, expeditions, and touring packages in the various hotspot destinations of Nepal. Besides, we also have been organizing hiking, jungle safari, river rafting, bungee jumping and mountain biking packages successfully throughout the popular destinations of Nepal. Since the inception, World Sight Journey has been proudly showcasing the scenic beauty of glorious Himalayas, the grandeur of incredibly diverse and wonderful Nepalese culture, amazingly rich flora and fauna, some yet-to-be discovered landscapes and many more to its valued clients from around the globe. We are so proud to showcase Nepal to the world.
trekking in Nepal, Trekking Company in Nepal, Everest base camp Trekking, Annapurna Base Camp Trekking, Upper Mustang Trekking , Peak Climbing in Nepal, Manaslu Circuit Trekking, Kanchenjunga Trekking, Island Peak Climbing

Anjan Tamang said...

Adventure Himalaya Treks is a Nepal Government registered dependable trekking in Nepal, Everest Base Camp Treks, Manaslu Trekking, Langtang Trekking, Annapurna Base Camp Treks, Annapurna Circuit Treks and more tourism related activities Company established by diplomatic knowledgeable tourism competent with over 11 years of perfect experience in the tourism sector. It has been well established as the prime service provider for excursion holidays in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. All of our team members are familiar with nature, mountain and the culture of Nepal with most having grown up in the Himalaya. We are committed on environmental friendly tourism activities and we take satisfaction in doing our part to preserve the natural beauty, respect the way of life of compare community, and their local culture and heritage.
Adventure Himalaya Treks
Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal
G.P.O.Box:5981,
Cell No:(+977) 9841902116
Email:info@adventurehimalayatreks.com,
anjan7adventure@gmail.com
Skype:anjan.tamang7
Website:adventurehimalayatreks.com