Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Surveillance and Accountability

Taking it easy on the big socio-political stuff, this time. Prepare for cool bits of science, etc...with just a hint of provocation!

First, for a garrulous ramble that will take you from Pericles to Popper to Pluto - mostly focusing on transparency and accountability and re-learning the art of political pragmatism - here's a recent podcast interview I gave on Surprisingly Free about the future of freedom.  A couple of times I even pause to inhale!

==Surveillance and Accountability==

Through its new “Finder” program, the the intelligence community’s way-out research shop, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) says that it is looking for ways to geolocate (a fancy word for “locate” that implies having coordinates for a place) images by extracting data from the images themselves and using this to make guesses about where they were taken.

More and more digital cameras today don’t just take pictures but also capture what is called  — often referred to as data about data — that can include everything from when the picture was taken to what kind of camera was used to where the it was taken. This metadata, often stored in a format called , can be used by different programs to understand different aspects of the image — and also by intelligence analysts to understand different aspects of the user who took it, and the people who are in it. Like who they are, what they are doing, and where and when they did it.

sousveillance-quote-david-brinYep, it will be a real Big Brother world... unless WE get all these powers too.  In that case, vibrant participatory democracy and citizen action will ensure we can look back at the mighty.  They’ll still see more than we can.  But if we stay anywhere close, then we’ll stay free.  Side-benefit... our protectors shouldn’t mind!  A secular trend toward a more open world may inconvenience them in the short term. But their mission will be more likely, overall, to succeed.

For updates on this timely topic…see a collection of links at: The Transparent Society: Privacy and Accountability in an Age of Increasing Surveillance.

For those of you who enjoyed the vividly entertaining - if somewhat biased - “Rap War between Hayek and Keynes” - it has been taken to Fight of the Century: Part II of an ongoing and enlightening (if grossly oversimplifying) series.  In fact, I am a fan/critic of both of these geniuses, who made major contributions. My one quibble is that it says nothing about the FOLLOWERS of Hayek vs those of Keynes. Alas, those who proclaim Hayek tend to use him to justify things he never would have gone along with, like the fostering of a vast oligarchy-caste. Keynes, too, has some dogmatic followers. But most tend to be pragmatist meddlers who modify as facts come in. (e.g. Bill Clinton paying down debt during good times.) Alas, this is where the real struggle lies, not in the core ideas of two brilliant men.

== Is your politics brain-predestined?==

No wonder some folks are waging a War on Science. ”Using data from MRI scans, researchers at the University College London found that self-described liberals have a larger anterior cingulate cortex--a gray matter of the brain associated with understanding complexity. Meanwhile, self-described conservatives are more likely to have a larger amygdala, an almond-shaped area that is associated with fear and anxiety.”  ... "It's very unlikely that actual political orientation is directly encoded in these brain regions." More work is needed to determine how these brain structures mediate the formation of political attitude."

Only now comes a more broad description of brain differences among political personality types, from Scientific American: The Ideology of No.  Share this one!

And finishing with a veer from the sublime (science) to the ridiculous... see a fascinating essay on Ayn Rand as the religious figure whose apostle-dad ruined his kids’ childhoods.  An interesting perspective on the most-distinctly Russian of all American gurus.

SMBC is a great online comic strip that often comments on scientific matters....but see especially this panel that makes you both laugh & think. Especially since I’m active in trying to talk foolish radio-exhibitionists out of exposing themselves (and us) compulsively to the cosmos.

==Addiction & Evolution ==

vaccination against heroin addiction? Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and his colleagues have created a vaccine cocktail that consists of a heroin-like hapten – a molecule that provokes the immune system – bound to a carrier protein and mixed with alum, an adjuvant that further stimulates the immune system. The vaccine trains the immune system to swarm heroin molecules with antibodies, as though the drug were an invasive organism, thereby sequestering the drug in the bloodstream before it can reach the brain.

Another group in Baltimore (NIDA) gave rodent addicts a drug that binds the CB-2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain, inhibiting dopamine activity and thereby blunting the cocaine high.
Mice who received the anti-cocaine drug pushed the cocaine lever less frequently and did not scurry around as much as their high peers.  Of course all of this relates to one of my ongoing interests... the general notion that addiction is a process that we got from evolution.

==Science in the News==

NASA's WISE mission found a 'Trojan' asteroidsharing Earth's orbit. We've used other "lagrange" positions (sunward and spaceward) for telescopes. But the trojan spots -60degrees ahead or behind- could hold valuable rocks, predictably accessible and sources of great wealth.

Are biologists ready to "make" life? By some measures, they have! Other steps - self-replicating and evolving molecules - seem to say we're getting very close to that 'Frankenstein' spark that separates inanimate from living. Fascinating article.

Recent films... No, I haven’t been to see the one with clever apes.  I suppose I’m missing a beat, by not publishing an article about Uplift and the dismal Hollywood reflex of despising science.  On the other hand, I recommend the film SOURCE CODE. Not bad for very low-budget sci fi. Science isn’t evil and the gimmicks make a little sense.

Deserving your support... A bipartisan political action committee called Ben Franklin’s List, aims to help engineers and scientists need to win office. Now, among the 435 members of the House include one physicist, 6 engineers, and 22 people with medical training. Shameful for an advanced civilization. (Did you know almost all the leaders of China started as engineers? Ponder that.) The "war on science" must stop.

And disturbing -- 20 million hectares of the best farmland in Africa have been sold by government out from under local farmers to companies from rich countries, notably China and Saudi Arabia to produce food for export back home.

Some of these visions of tomorrow are as bad as the sarcastically-cynical writer of the article yells... and I think people will not want to touch all those touch screens other people have been touching.  There are lots of other ways to do augmented reality.  Still. dive into the article and play the videos! (All right, #4  #2 and #1 are pretty dumb. But #5 and #3 have real content.)

A very beautiful short film -- winner of a competition restricted to six lines of dialog. Have a look!

And now a swerve into painful humor! See the annual Bulwer-Lyton contest for deliberately BAD WRITING!

Food/medicines/industry use beef/pork gelatin with some allergy & other probs. Now yeast with inserted human genes make better gelatin! "Human derived.". Is it vegetarian? Vegan? Cannibalism? Offer it to zombies or vampires? Oh, the commercials...


142 comments:

gwern said...

I was surprised when you brought up the IARPA but not in the context I had expected - its new prediction study: http://lesswrong.com/lw/6ya/get_paid_to_train_your_rationality_link/

Have you considered entering the study?

Stefan Jones said...

I loved Source Code. A good example of a movie based on an incredibly complex idea that can get away with it because today's audiences have grown up with geeky, challenging ideas.

I recently saw The Tree of Life, which was strange, difficult, challenging and beautiful. It's 90% family drama set in 1960s Texas, 10% cosmic scene-setting. The action flips back and forth between kids squabbling and . . . the Big Bang, dinosaurs, and a red giant sun consuming the earth.

* * *

Three (possible) new dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt!

http://www.geekosystem.com/dwarf-planets-kuiper-belt/

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin,

I'm not sure of this, but I seem to recall your recently asking for the citation from "Earth" that had you predicting bit-torrents?

If so, I believe this would be it. Page 267 in my paperback edition13 or so pages into Part VI:


Columns of data flowed like spume over a waterfall. Torrents--and yet mere samplings from the river, the ocean of information that was the Net.

Paul said...

"A vaccination against heroin addiction? The vaccine trains the immune system to swarm heroin molecules with antibodies, as though the drug were an invasive organism,"

Errr, I hope it doesn't react to other opiates, like endorphins, or the former addict will never experience happiness again.

--

Food Aid cheesy-puffs. Commenter suggests another prediction hit for Earth. But I don't remember the reference.

http://news.discovery.com/human/scientists-develop-instant-aid-food-110809.html

--

I don't know about the anterior cingulate cortex, but the amygdala can be enlarged by continuous exposure to fear/stress. So liberalism/conservatism isn't necessarily fixed from birth, instead it may be influenced by exposure to complex ideas vs. exposure to fear.

LarryHart said...

Ok, we've seen that particular Objectivism article here before. And this passage got my goat before too:

Our objectivist education, however, was not confined to lectures and books. One time, at dinner, I complained that my brother was hogging all the food.

"He's being selfish!" I whined to my father.

"Being selfish is a good thing," he said. "To be selfless is to deny one's self. To be selfish is to embrace the self, and accept your wants and needs."


The brother didn't BUY the food. It's not like the girl/narrator is asking for a handout, but the brother would rather eat all his own food himself. THAT at least would be justifiable from an Ayn Randian position.

But here, the FATHER is feeding the family, and the brother grabs all the food himself, and the Objectivist father applauds the brother's "selfishness"? He seems to be more of a moocher and looter to me.

The father is an idiot, and the girl/narrator is lucky to have escaped childhood relatively sane.

Enterik said...

Parasites Rulz! Sacculina is one of my favorites.

The molted larvae slips in through a knee joint, hormonally sterilizes the male crab, which develops a brood pouch full of Sacculina eggs, the eunuch male then behaves as a female crab, finding a promontory from which to strew it ersatz brood into the currents and begin the process anew.

Although Echinococcus is just plain gross. Sheep eats dog feces (hopefully inadvertantly as a sauce upon grass) the parasite invades the organs develops into cysts which are eventually ingested by dogs, whereupon the cycle begins again.

Once reading Morbidity & Mortality weekly I read of a man who got a zoonotic Echinococcus infection from Mountain Lion Jerky of his own manufacture. He developed and hydatid cyst filled with a liter of protoscolices. It ruptured and he died of anaphylactic shock.

"Rugged Omnivores" Beware...the campestral world is messy.

chrismealy said...

Not that anybody gives a shit, but Keynes was a great champion of entrepreneurs (as opposed to the idle rich). The dude was a capitalist through and through. Russ Roberts is liar and a moron.

David Brin said...

Um... thanks for that Enterik! Yum.

And yes, Keynes was only socialist to the extent that intervention can shorten cruelly wasteful cyclical downturns. (Their duration was cut in half, compared to pre 1900 depressions.) He believed (as did the prophet Joseph) that one should buy down debt and save during "fat years".

Keynes wasn't always right! Much revision has been needed and frankly, economics benefited from the criticisms... though not the specifics... of Hayek and the Austrians.

Hayek was especially right about the importance of near universal transparency so that the most participants could compete with the most knowledge. In this respect, he knew that traditional oligarchy was the enemy. Unlike most modern libertarians, he knew that competition was the key thing. Not idolatry of personal property without limit.

But still. Keynes has a track record of being well over half right, well over half the time. Supply side has no such record, having a near perfect ZERO score, at all levels and in all ways.

Pangolin said...

Larry Niven predicted the inclusion of human genes into food products in one of his Known Space stories where the protagonist is a genetic engineer who made her fortune inserting human genes into a banana strain to make.... bananameat. (why not eat the best)

There is no actual need for a Heroin vaccine as short series treatments of Ibogaine or Ayahuasca are both know to cure heroin addiction with minimal added therapy.

Somebody once speculated that the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit trains (BART) were sending long wave radio signals out into space as the trains transited the electrified welded rail on it's longest leg. If so, it's way to late to put the radio horse in the barn.

If you post an unedited photo from a GPS equipped cell straight to the internet on certain -chan boards the the trolls will have your life history in minutes. Other boards/services scrub exif data. Always use a photo editor to be sure. This means you congressman.

If there's a lost city in that 'roid Clarke wins again.

Robert said...

The reason for vaccines to stop drug addiction isn't to ensure a better method of treating addiction. It's for a cheaper and less time consuming method. If you inject a serum into someone and they can't feel a high any longer, then you can wash your hands of them. They're cured. Society did its bit. They can't "regress" because this "super cure" will prevent them from feeling the high and naturally they'll not bother taking the drugs any longer, even if the underlying causes for addiction were never treated.

I mean, let's look at the U.S. Judicial system. Locking a teenager into prison just results in the teenager learning how to be a more effective criminal from the more experienced crooks in prison. There are other plans out there that help deal with the issue, treat the underlying cause, and result in a low level of recidivism. But it's so much EASIER to just toss someone into jail. In fact, there's a huge industry built around it. And when you toss the person into jail and have a "no tolerance" policy you can claim to be "hard on crime" when in fact you are encouraging it.

Mind you, I do abstracting for criminal justice journals. (Have I mentioned I love my job? I get to read a little bit of everything!) So I've seen what the experts have to say about this. And they know the current prison system doesn't work. It destroys the productivity of the people tossed in jail (having a low-threat convict wear a tracking anklet and continue working allows them to be productive while punishing them by restricting their freedom, and this is just one possibility), increases costs (having to feed, shelter, clothe, medically treat, and observe the convict), and often puts the person in a high-stress environment that will harden most convicts into real criminals.

But if you talk about "treating" criminals... then you're being "soft" on crime. People want criminals (but not themselves or their friends or family if convicted of a crime) in prison to feel "safer." And the only way to ensure prisoners don't teach one another how to be better criminals in jail is total isolation. But I'm fairly certain that is considered "cruel and unusual punishment."

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

I've been holding onto this for a bit, waiting for Dr. Brin to go onto another science run. Well, here we are! =^-^=

A mountain lion hit and killed by a car in Connecticut appears to have migrated... from South Dakota.

http://newrochelle.patch.com/articles/connecticut-mountain-lion-traveled-from-south-dakota-9

http://newrochelle.patch.com/articles/
connecticut-mountain-lion-traveled-from-south-dakota-9

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Reviews

Enterik said...

Robert, Was the Mountain Lion made into jerky?

Also a quick comment at no one in particular.

With rare exception, we all have functional Amygdalas and Anterior Cingulate Cortexes. Thus we should all consider ourselves capable the full range of described thought processes.

Somewhere in Malcolm Gladwell's series of books he conveys the generic assertion that for humans fear of loss is "valued" about twice as much hope of gain.

Thinking of our shared evolutionary history one can understand why this might be so. Loss is real, some concrete asset, say food shelter mate is gone whereas Gain, the hunt, the competition, is uncertain.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

But if you talk about "treating" criminals... then you're being "soft" on crime. People want criminals (but not themselves or their friends or family if convicted of a crime) in prison to feel "safer."


It's not just to feel safer because the criminal is sequestered. The "tough on crime" crowd seems to regard even the concept of rehabilitation to be squishy liberalism. They want criminals PUNISHED, period. They'd argue in favor of torture if that wasn't still politically a non-starter. They DO argue for torture in cases when they can get away with it, such as terrorism or child-molestation.


And the only way to ensure prisoners don't teach one another how to be better criminals in jail is total isolation. But I'm fairly certain that is considered "cruel and unusual punishment."


I consider being at large among the prison population to be cruel and unusual punishment. If I were ever in prison, I would PETITION for solitary confinement.

I suppose I have a higher tolerance for solitude than the average human being.

anagory said...

We need a CARPA, or civilian ARPA. Also what Hayek apparently said about universal transparency, but it's the same thing, isn't it? Where there is competition, there is competition over competitive advantage, which I suspect is the only reason universal transparency isn't already a fait accompli. I understand you have many complaints with the aristocratogenic "locking in of competitive gains" which I suppose is where the absolute sanctity of property enters the picture.

David Brin said...

Pangolin "Somebody once speculated ...If so, it's way to late .."

Good one! ;-) In fact though, it's been shown that even military radars don't reach the nearest star. Only coherent (laser like) beams do that. Only planetary radars and deliberate beamings.

I have long wished we'd experiment with intermediate types of incarceration... internal banishment colonies... islands or isolated-abandoned prairie towns where prisoners with ankle trackers are set free to work and set up an economy, though separated from society. Supervised, but less-so. Free to farm their food and process it and practice some crafts. Especially young people or low risk.

A completely different version would be even looser. Rural towns bought up to be refuges for sex offenders after serving their main sentence. Places where they can be left alone and leave other alone.

gwern said...

> Somewhere in Malcolm Gladwell's series of books he conveys the generic assertion that for humans fear of loss is "valued" about twice as much hope of gain.

Fortunately, you don't need to trust Gladwell on this. (Phew!)

See https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Loss_aversion and https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Risk_aversion

> I have long wished we'd experiment with intermediate types of incarceration... internal banishment colonies... islands or isolated-abandoned prairie towns where prisoners with ankle trackers are set free to work and set up an economy, though separated from society. Supervised, but less-so. Free to farm their food and process it and practice some crafts. Especially young people or low risk.

This is already done in some Scandinavian countries: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Bast%C3%B8y_Prison

(How well does it work? Dunno. It does sound like the kind of thing that works best in Scandinavia...)

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin,

Your ideas about alternate prison schemes probably work best for political prisoners (expanded to include "criminals" who aren't really threats to others but who engage in behavior which can't politically be legalized). Heck, I'd argue for isolated towns where LIBERALS can set up shop and not be bothered by our neighbors.

:)

When you get to the more predatory types of criminals, though...doesn't less supervision just mean that the most predatory end up running the place? It's analogous to the situation where more "freedom" from GOVERNMENT control means we become slaves to CORPORATE control. Replace "government" with prison guards and "corporate" with the biggest bad-asses in the place.

Robert said...

That doesn't work. There is an inherent need with authoritarian groups to force their authority on others, even if those others are no threat. It's been talked about in fiction (such as Starhawk's "The Fifth Sacred Thing") and I suppose history itself shows this as well with all the wars we've had with one nation invading another.

And if there's one thing about the neocons and what they've turned the Republican Party into... it's that they're authoritarian in nature. With them on top.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

And if there's one thing about the neocons and what they've turned the Republican Party into... it's that they're authoritarian in nature. With them on top.


One thing I've learned late in the game is that only a small segment of authoritarians see themselves AS the authority. Sure you've got those, and they gravitate to the top of the food chain, but underneath them is a larger contingent of people who desperately believe IN a ruling class, but don't fantasize that they ARE the rulers.

I could come up with psychobabble to attempt explanation (they're afraid to make their own choices, they require validation, etc), but the truth is I don't know HOW those thought processes work. I just know that they're out there. A large number of people believe that a dictatorship is a good form of government, and that "freedom" means that you get to decide which leader to follow rather than having THAT choice made for you.

My formerly-sane conservative buddy (who went off the deep end after Obama's election) used to go on and on about how preferable Christian rule was to any alternative (even though he didn't consider himself a Christian) and how great the Republicans are at running government (even though he considered himself an independent). I coined the words "Christianist" and "conservativist" to try to explain how much he reminded me of that guy in "Monty Python's Life of Brian" who hangs from a dungeon wall while he rants on and on about what a great race the Romans are.

Rob said...

David, I think you're talking about Biblical cities of refuge, with a high-tech twist!

"Son, you're welcome to try and move in across from the elementary school after we let you go, but you see, we've changed the law so that your victims get to hunt you down without fear of criminal charges... unless you move to Corvallis."

If nothing else your ideas are conversation starters, that's for sure. :-)

David Brin said...

Plenty of folks in prison for nonviolent and mostly-non-predatory crimes.

Drug possession should IMMEDIATELY be converted to isolated town exile while we keep fighting for better laws themselves. Likewise non-hardened youth offenders.

David Brin said...

LarryHart ask your freidn to name the unambiguous national health metrics that prove his case.

David Brin said...

Have a look at Kent Pitman's appraisal of "the rich pay more."

http://open.salon.com/blog/kent_pitman/2011/08/10/enough

http://open.salon.com/blog/kent_pitman/
then
2011/08/10/enough

Paul said...

Pangolin,

"Larry Niven predicted the inclusion of human genes into food products"

I think Asimov(?) did one too. The protagonist was prosecuting a rival company. First introduced the term "Meat" to the (algae-eating) panel, explaining the history of bioculture turned carniculture then, ends by introducing another new term, "Cannibalism".
DUN DUN DUH!!!

"Somebody once speculated that the [BART was] sending long wave radio signals out into space [...] If so, it's way to late to put the radio horse in the barn."

I don't know whether that would be more than just RF noise, though.

Damn it, if Sagan was still around, Deep Horizon would have an experiment to listen to Earth radio output at Pluto (and beyond), to see how discernible it is against the sun's radio-noise. With a live webcast. "Hear You Are".
--
Robert,
Re: Heroin vaccine.

Wouldn't the addicts given the Heroin Vaccine just switch to meth?
--
David,
Re: Coventry/Probation.
Perhaps deliberately low tech? Amish-ish. (Except the trackers obviously.)

(ovatstr: Ovaphile, Ovatstr, Ovavore.)

Robert said...

The thought among the more cynical researchers is that the addicts will just start taking larger and larger doses in the hopes of overpowering their immune system and getting a high anyway. Of course, this risks something else happening: overdose. Thus they try for one last high... and die.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

http://science.discovery.com/videos/through-the-wormhole-the-god-experience.html

http://science.discovery.com/videos/
then
through-the-wormhole-the-god-experience.html

Tim H. said...

Paul, the food story you're looking for is Arthur C. Clarke's "The Food of the Gods". Issac Asimov did a food story with people who lived on synthetic and hydroponically grown food reacting badly to food grown in dirt.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

LarryHart ask your freind to name the unambiguous national health metrics that prove his case.


I could have asked him something like that prior to November 2008. These days, he doesn't converse with me because I'm a socialist apologist for America's enemies. But were I to ask, his metrics would be "Obama is a socialist", "Ted Kennedy and John Kerry are oligarchs", and my favorite "National health-care was instituted by Bismarck, so by working for national health-care, Obama proves he really IS like Hitler."

I did think once think this guy could be my "conservative ostrich" who I could argue back to the non-dark side of the Force. But that was before the 2008 election. I think Obama's presidency really did drive him insane.

Robert said...

I have a friend sort of like that. He has had this "gut feeling" that Obama is going to do something horrible to screw up this country and refuses to admit that he's just prejudiced because Obama is a Democrat. I'm hoping that in five years, when Obama's second term comes to an end and nothing horrible happened to destroy the world, I can turn to him and go "so, about that gut feeling of yours..." before dropping the subject.

Rob H.

Pangolin said...

I can't recommend initiating a tryptamine cascade and dropping through the wormhole (ingredients available at your nearest tropical rain forest) unless you have a really serious bitch with the consensual reality. I once spent a week preceding every other sentence with "small god says…." You don't ever come all the way back.

There's a god switch in your head. Certain chemical cocktails, magnetic fields, pain, blows to the head, meditative states, fasting, spinning, bad food and sneezes can trigger it. It's like the Holy Grail lantern in a Monty Python movie. You don't really see god; you just feel like you did.

Which is all fine unless "God" tells you that you're Joan of Arc and you need to take up the sword and push the English out of Normandy. Then it's time to exercise some judgement.

Anonymous said...

"Bananameat" is from The Ophiuchi Hotline by John Varley

(Sorry if this comes through twice.)

Patricia Mathews said...

The powers that be don't want kinder gentler prisons. Having more and more people locked up for smaller and smaller reasons and then labeled for the rest of their lives profits them in so many ways they'd be fools not to want to continue it. For example:

Prison labor. Why pay even minimum wage when you can get prisoners to do the work at 8 cents and hour?

Getting disaffected young men off the streets. If they're locked up, they can't riot or, God forbid, start a revolution.

In a lot of states, ex-convicts can't vote. That takes care of a lot of underclass types who would vote the wrong way.

Cynical? About our corporate masters? You bet!

Tacitus2 said...

Political Lamp is dark.

Anyone else think that this year's Bulwer-Lytton winners were a bit lame?

It takes real talent with words to create something close enough to good to string the reader along for a line or two before the metaphorical trap door opens...

I blame texting.


Tcts

Enterik said...

A bridging solution is obviously being over-looked in both the Gelatin and Prison discussions...

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/53/Make_Room%21_Make_Room%21.jpg

And because SPACEGUARD has been such big success, no missed events since 2002...well anyways, it's time to start EXCALIBUR so we can map those asteroids and maybe even get some alien food synthesizer technology as a bonus...

Robert said...

While I dislike the tone of The National Review, I do have to recommend the story "A Tea-Infused Party: Of conservative populism, past and future," by Ramesh Ponnuru. It says some interesting things about the Tea Party... including the fact the party isn't anything new, has had minimal impact on removing incumbent Republicans, and that there is a cycle of conservative power that increases with each "liberal" Presidential Administration... and even mentions this one is weaker than the one that happened during the Clinton Administration (in that Republicans failed to win the Senate and failed to stop health care reform from going through).

In essence, the one difference is that this "movement" has a name, which is a result of the mass media hyping it and putting names to everything.

Rob H.

sociotard said...

unmanned hypersonic glider launched

Earth has a thin ring of antimatter

rewinn said...

Agreeing with Dr. T on culture matters, I suggest a few reasons that Bulwer-Lytton may be aging badly:

*Perhaps the nature of funny is changing, as Twitter, texting et al encourages short, sharp shocks whereas overextended turgid prose now rates merely tl;dr

* The internets expose us to vastly larger quantities of deliberately humorous and accidentally aweful texts than before, so it's harder for so formal a contest to compete
.
* Graphical modes of thought, including humor, are easier than ever to distribute; perhaps the really funny people are now doing youtube or webcomix

* The Bulwer-Lytton Corollary to Poe's Law states that because it is impossible to tell sufficiently bad writing from parody, the latter is funny only insofar as it is novel; and since the contest is no longer novel, it is no longer funny.

Robert said...

Here's a rather interesting article concerning Paul and his views on women based on a fresco found in a cave-shrine suggesting that Paul was not anti-woman, but that his writings were... adjusted by certain parties after the fact who wanted to eliminate the power of women in the early Christian Church. The fresco showed two women - one of a woman that was then defaced to try and eliminate the concept of a woman as a teacher and equal... and the other of a young woman who refused marriage and decided to remain a virgin. This latter story has an interesting twist as the girl was to be fed to the lions... and apparently the crowd divided between women supporting the girl, and men who wanted her to be cat food.

Anyway, here is the article. Assuming this is true... it could have some truly fascinating repercussions for the Christian faith. And it makes me wonder... what if women had succeeded in retaining their power in the Church? Can you imagine how different the world would be today?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-dominic-crossan/historical-paul-gender_b_921319.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-dominic-crossan/
historical-paul-gender_b_921319.html

Rob H.

Robert said...

And here's a fascinating article... seems plesiosaurs gave birth to live young rather than laying eggs. Scientists discovered a fossilized pregnant plesiosaur that was pregnant when she died. Now that? That is just absolutely amazing.

http://sundaygazettemail.com/News/201108111122

Rob H.

sociotard said...

China's Foxconn to use 1 million robots to replace employees who cost too much

Brendan said...

An author I follow on twitter has been tweeting lines from her up and coming new book. I am not sure why she included this line that I am sure will be a Bulmer-Lytton favourite next year.

"On the far bank sat four wolves looking death in our direction."

I physically winced when I read that, the prose hurt so badly.

rewinn said...

More good news on the transparency font: The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who is leading the U.S. investigation into NewsCorp, was best man at the wedding of a NewsCorp Director.

What a clever, clever move by the government ... Hey, who knows your secrets better than the guy who got your drunk at your bachelor party?

Paul said...

Robert,
"Here's a rather interesting article concerning Paul and his views on women based on a fresco found in a cave-shrine suggesting that Paul was not anti-woman,"

Went through the whole cycle of cognitive dissonance, denial confusion understanding acceptance, in about half a second.

(undme: And me.)

Paul said...

Update to the story of that soldier whose de-fleshed leg was treated with "Pixie dust". (AKA extracellular matrix.)

http://www.kens5.com/news/Regrowing-muscle-brave-new-world-of-modern-medicine-127475558.html

(comeat: Follow up to recent story about DNA bases found in meteors.)

Robert said...

Off on a tangent here... I remember Dr. Brin commenting on how he was concerned about an army of McVeighs in the future. I think he didn't consider the amount of time it would take to arise. The McVeighs are likely still coming... and are going to be the most radical elements of the Tea Party should the Tea Party-affiliated politicians lose power in 2012.

If you think of it, the reason for a McVeigh is that someone feels disenfranchised and out of power. But the Tea Party has a massive amount of power and influence right now, allowing a minority to seize control of politics in Washington. Should the American People say "Enough!" and kick Republicans out of office, this radical element of the Tea Party will feel disenfranchised and that the political system is broken.

So they'll fight back. They'll go after politicians and political rallies. They'll do everything in their power to terrorize the American Majority into submission. In a worse case scenario, they could even become akin to the Taliban, using violence to achieve political power and then refuse to relinquish it.

In theory, at least.

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

On a more optimistic note, donations have helped SETI go active once more. Hopefully they won't try to beam messages out to ET, but it's still nice to see that the Public cares enough about science that they will donate to keep a vaguely scientific effort solvent.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/237550/seti_to_turn_telescopes_back_on_in_coming_days.html

http://www.pcworld.com/article/237550/
seti_to_turn_telescopes_back_on_in_coming_days.html

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

Finally, the Kepler Space Telescope has found what may be the blackest planet yet - if the data from this is correct, the planet is darker than coal.

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-08/darkest-known-planet-universe-absorbs-nearly-100-light-reaches-it

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-08/
darkest-known-planet-universe-absorbs-nearly-100-light-reaches-it

Rob H.

Sith Master Sean said...

I really don’t understand your opposition to sending messages into space. Our space program is timid enough already -- surely we don’t need to start cracking down on anyone with a large radio transmitter. If you take such a pessimistic view of the universe, you might as well forget about space exploration and just stay home. We’ll eventually have to face the hostile cosmos, and there’s no way to know when we’ll be ready for it. We’re ready to make contact when we’re able to, as far as I’m concerned. Yes, there are potential risks, but what about the potential rewards?

sociotard said...

China builds its first aircraft carrier

And so the world prepares for Pax Sinona

ell said...

Rob H.:

I attended one of the early Tea Party rallies. There were the usual assortment of cranks and racists and gripers and moaners. I was a little uncomfortable but I didn't feel unsafe.

Now that they have organized political power, the movement may go the route of Irish nationalism. Once Sinn Fein started having influence, the IRA and Ulster became a lot quieter.

LarryHart said...

Finally! I guess I'm just enough of an authoritarian to feel that my own speculations are worthless until someone who knows what they're talking about says the same thing I did.

Paul Krugman:

I’m not the first person to notice this, but whenever you read conservatives trying to critique what they think the other side believes, you find them assuming that their opponents must be mirror images of themselves. The right believes that less government spending is always good, regardless of circumstances, so it assumes that the other side must always favor more government spending. The right says that deficits are always evil (unless they’re caused by tax cuts), so they assume that the center-left must favor deficits in all conditions.
...
What seems beyond their intellectual range is the notion that other people might have subtler beliefs than their own. Keynesianism, in particular, is not about chanting “big government good”. It’s about viewing recessions through the lens of an economic model under which temporary increases in government spending can, under certain circumstances, help reduce unemployment. Indeed, not all recessions call for fiscal stimulus; it’s the special conditions of the liquidity trap that make it essential now — which is why the Bush deficits, run under non-liquidity trap conditions, say nothing at all about the desirability of deficits now.


Ah, sweet validation!

David Brin said...

Sith lord hi! You ask an interesting question... though perhaps more of a tone of curiosity, than contempt might be called for.

In fact, I have been studying the concepts of alien life all my life, as an astronomer and as an author. I am the one who has catalogued the vast range of possibilities... most of which you've never thought-of.

It is because I know that range, that I suggest we might listen more and blab less for a while. Think. If older civs are out there, THEY are keeping quiet. Maybe they know something?

See this site:
http://lifeboat.com/ex/shouting.at.the.cosmos

Remember, I am not asking for silence forever! Just long enough so we can all talk it over down here, before screaming "yoohoo!" into an unknown jungle.

David Brin said...

I do not understand why Krugman fails to cite the Clinton Surpluses as proof of situational adaptability.

WHY is no one but me citing the story of Joseph and the 7 fat then 7 lean years? The "conservatives spent like 14 year olds during our fat years. So much for credibility.

sociotard said...

I tried the Joseph analogy, and the respones I got was "but they never save during the fat seven years"

They can! during the Clinton surpluses, some people tried! Instead we went straight to tax cuts.

But, their point stands. Keynesian economics means that you can't enjoy the fat years as much as you would like. You have to tax more and pay off debts, or even put a little in the piggy bank. At this moment, I'm not sure that our civilization is capable of actually following the prescriptions of Keynesian economics.

That's the question. Not "Is Keynesian economics valid?" but "Can you implement policy based on Keynesian economics in a democratic republic?"

Dr. Brin, can you cite any nations that actually use Keynesian economics? Even in fat years? Bonus points if the nation is a republic with strong elements of representative democracy.

David Brin said...

All I can say is that Clinton did it. It's inarguable.

It CAN be argued that he would not have done so without a republican House. Combined with a good economy

Tacitus2 said...

Regards the chinese aircraft carrier. They did not build it, they bought it from the former USSR and finished it. Quite a difference really.

And did I see that Jodi Foster ponied up some SETI money? Nice. I thought Contact was a better book than movie, but she made some green off it and it is appropriate that she send some back.


Tacitus
Detritus of Empire

LarryHart said...

Several points about the Joseph (and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) analogy

First of all Krugman HAS mentioned the Clinton surpluses in just that context...maybe not in the particular blurb I quoted, but he HAS done so many times.

Next, it's not JUST you, Dr Brin. I've been complaining for years that supposedly-Biblical Republicans seem not to have read about Joseph.

Finally, Clinton and the Republican congress of his time were able to agree on deficit cuts because THOSE Republicans actually did believe in deficit-reduction. No one was cheering louder than I was when it looked as if paying off the entire National Debt was a reachable goal.

So yeah, what Bush did was the equivalent of Pharoah "giving all the food back to the people" at the end of the fat years. At the time, I couldn't put my finger on what was happening, but it already seemed as if "Some powerful interests don't WANT the debt paid off". Remember how terrified Alan Greenspan seemed to be about a surplus? Ten years later, Krugman points out that the "rentiers"--the owners OF debt--are very happy with deflation and depression and unemployement. So I have to believe that Bush giving away the store too quickly was not mere stupidity--it was a deliberate attempt to maintain a persistent level of indebtedness.

"Can Keynsian economics be practiced in a democracy when the oligarchs will always work to obstruct it?" Ok, whoever asked the question didn't include that last part, but I'm saying you might as well. One might as easily ask if democracy itself can work when money and power will always corrput the system. The answer is that it CAN work, but it does require eternal vigilance, and sometimes a guillotine might be necessary.

Paul said...

Sith Master Sean,
"I really don't understand your opposition to sending messages into space."

David already answered this, but allow me the indulgence of spelling it out further...

We've been listening to other stars off-and-on for 60 years. So far we've heard nothing. Not one damn peep. To me, that implies one of two possibilities:

A) The density of civilisations in the galaxy is so low that none are within range of detectability (of either our receivers (or each other's, which I'll explain in the next message.))

Or B) they are within range of our, and each other's receivers, and they are being very very quiet.

If (A) is true, then there is no reason to broadcast, because no one is within receiving range.

If (B) is true, then we should take their advice, and shut the hell up until we know what they are afraid of.

cont.

Paul said...

Sith Master Sean,

So here, I'll anticipate rebuttal #93, "But what if every planet uses that logic, and they're all just listening for each other, with no one talking!"

If the density of civilisation in the galaxy is high enough for some to be within shouting distance of us, then clearly some will be within whispering distance of each other. Ie, being able to detect passive emissions.

So imagine two such civilisation, each able to detect the other. The oldest would have heard their neighbour's first radio transmissions, learnt their history, etc. And one day, they will hear a news story (or something) from the younger planet announcing that they've detected the older.

At that point there's no reason to stay quiet. Certainly not with a race they've studied for so long, whose whole history they know. (Unless there is a reason. See (B).) And if the two start directing dedicated signals to each other, the spill may be detectable by other nearby civilisations, who also can now choose whether to join in.

As more planets join in the conversation, the group becomes more and more detectable to outsiders, more confident, more welcoming, until a Sagan Network covers the whole galaxy, continuing long after the original civilisations have become extinct.

Such a network would be detectable by us. And since it isn't, it isn't. QED.

David Brin said...

Look, you guys know my personality is contrarian and hence, when I hear conspiracy theories I go tsk and demand proof...
...
...but I have conspiracy theories of my own.

I mean dang, what kind of correlation gene do you need, to put it all together?

1. Beck and Limbaugh and every other movement radical says "I hope Obama fails, even if it means pain for the country."

2. The smart ones know that Keynsian economics works at a high ratio, especially during recessions. Period. Heck, Bush Jr. wanted LOTS of stimulus when he thought the GOP might benefit from a quick fix.

3. Now they are screaming to end budget deficits that they created (ALL of it attributable to trillion dollar wars of attrition plus insanely wrong supply side tax gifts to the aristocracy.)

Um... is nobody connecting 1, 2, and 3?

Please guys. Connect the dots. And now add in that those trillion dollar land wars in asia are exactly what enemies of Pax Americana would want us to do, if they meant us harm.

Can you see why I think Krugman is good... BUT HE THINKS TOO SMALL. In unreasonable times, sometimes it can blind you to try too hard to be reasonable.

Come on, will someone connect the dots and spell it out?

David Brin said...

"But what if every planet uses that logic,"

Reminds me of the same logic in Catch-22. Yossarian answers:

"Then I would be a damn fool to do any different."

Tim H. said...

Perhaps chtulhu told them a degree of pre-destruction would be desirable.
"lachomp", why the French weren't so crazy about a Paris McDonalds.

rewinn said...

None "R" so blind as WILL not see.

(Not that the Great Houses of the Aristocracy of Wealth haven't purchased a large part of the Democratic Party as well. But it's an historical fact that the modern Dems have been willing to act to support the health of our nation even when it rebounded to the benefit of their political enemies, whereas today's GOP explicitly works to wreck our nation for partisan advantage. This is a new sort of treason.)

sociotard said...

All I can say is that Clinton did it. It's inarguable.

It CAN be argued that he would not have done so without a republican House. Combined with a good economy


Then you missed the point of my question. I did not ask if any politician can be shown to abide by Keynesian principles. I asked if a democratic republic can do it. Clinton tried. Then the country voted in the guy who promised to stop it.

Can you give an example of a country that uses Keynesian principles reliably for, oh, a generation or so?

Pangolin said...

David_ Your conspiracy theory is pretty much public record if you know where to look. Actually more than a few people have been spelling it out since the Tea Party first toadstool'd up on the national lawn late in 2008.

If Van Jones Climate action plan had gone into effect we would have thousands of ongoing jobs installing solar panels plus the energy savings from those panels would have been putting cash in consumers pockets for the last two years at least.

We could have done the same thing with several other types of energy retrofits with marginal, but positive returns such as geo-exchange HVAC.

Instead the Repugs threw absolute fits until Jones was kicked out of Washington. There was no Keynesian stimulus and the US sits in the doldrums; literally.

Ian said...

"China builds its first aircraft carrier

And so the world prepares for Pax Sinona"

Not exactly.

China has recommissioned a second-hand Soviet-era aircraft carrier primarily as a technology test-bed which may, in time, lead to China building an actual aircraft carrier.

LarryHart said...

sociotard:

Can you give an example of a country that uses Keynesian principles reliably for, oh, a generation or so?


Germany? Denmark? Sweeden?

The question marks mean I don't know for sure, but they seem likely candidates to me.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Please guys. Connect the dots. And now add in that those trillion dollar land wars in asia are exactly what enemies of Pax Americana would want us to do, if they meant us harm.


I was going to point out (as someone else already has) that many of us already know your conspiracy theory and even accept it. But then, I don't think the "Come on, guys" is directed at us, is it?


Can you see why I think Krugman is good... BUT HE THINKS TOO SMALL. In unreasonable times, sometimes it can blind you to try too hard to be reasonable.


I would guess that Krugman thinks too small because he's writing as a columnist on economics and not as a speculative fiction writer.

Still, I wonder if the real-life analogues of your Colonel Spivey keep tabs on speculative fiction blogs such as this one. We can only hope.

Robert said...

And even if they had, so what? What do the naysayers want, for the U.S. to SINK the damn carrier? To enforce a world boycott of Chinese goods so that their economy crashes and they can't afford to build military equipment? Given the number of aircraft carriers WE have, what does it matter if China has one... or even three? (The general consensus is that they'd need three. One to train on, one to patrol the coastline, and one to be in drydock for repairs, rotating the three ships between duties.)

When you consider the multitude of threats that can sink a carrier... does it matter? Heck, I can see the Era of the Supercarrier coming to an end. Escort carriers cost less, can carry drone aircraft that are controlled by satellite and pilots in the States, and we can have more of them for less money.

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

NPR's Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy list is up:
http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/139085843/your-picks-top-100-science-fiction-fantasy-books?ps=cprs
FWIW, I voted for the Uplift series.

ell said...

If they hadn't included fantasy, David's books might have made the top 100.

Did you notice #60 -- "Going Postal" by Terry Pratchett -- and David's "The Postman" not included?

Oddly, with the Postal Service getting ready to cut back massively, various pundits are saying things like "Nobody uses the mail anymore. Everything's e-mail or paying bills electronically." and "What about people who don't have/can't afford computers?" and "What if the grid goes down? Nobody can pay bills. Nobody can reach anybody else. The telephones and ATMs will be down. We need the post office as a backup!"

I keep remembering the old adage about putting all your eggs in one basket.

sociotard said...

And even if they had, so what? What do the naysayers want, for the U.S. to SINK the damn carrier?

No, of course not. Carriers, though, are a more offensive type of naval craft. If it were just defense, they'd stick with the navy they have now. Experimenting with carriers implies they're getting ready to swing their military weight around more.

Pax Sinona is coming. Buying a carrier is just another angel heralding that coming. You can't stop the coming by shooting the angel.

Robert said...

Odd. You don't really hear much about offensive uses of the French or British aircraft carriers. It can also be a defensive weapon in that mobile targets are more difficult to pin down. Thus any attempt at a first strike to take out China's air fields (say if India decided to attack for some reason, or Pakistan) would also have to account for the Chinese carrier.

It's why the Russians put ballistic missiles on railroad tracks so it would be impossible to nail them all.

And for that matter why the Chinese do this as well.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Many countries have carriers. Brazil. India. Thailand!!!

How useful....?

Paul said...

Ian,
"China has recommissioned a second-hand Soviet-era aircraft carrier primarily as a technology test-bed which may, in time, lead to China building an actual aircraft carrier."

Depending on the meaning of "recommissioning", this is China's MO. They buy the technology, study it until they can copy it, then improve it.

China now knows how to make aircraft carriers. Given the size of their heavy industry, they now know how to make as many aircraft carriers as they want.

I wonder if they will keep it to themselves, or if they intend to export. Building three carriers cost a certain amount, building 13 carriers, 10 for customers, 3 for themselves, costs less for that 3.

(klxcul: Text message from one of Lovecraft's Young Ones.)

Brendan said...

If you want to worry about China becoming a threat in the naval sense you will need to wait until they start to build amphibious capacity. This wasn't something I noticed until George Friedman at STRATFOR pointed it out, but China literally can't get out into the Pacific without going through another countries territorial waters. They are hedged in by South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philipines and Malaisia. Before they will be able to enforce Pax anywhere they will either need permission to get their fleet through foreign(and mostly hostile) waters or invade someone(thus the amphibious transport)

David Brin said...

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll on the campus of Iowa State University here Saturday, edging out a narrow win over Rep. Ron Paul as Tim Pawlenty earned a third place finish that could mean the end of his campaign.

Okayyyyyyyyyyy

The psychos and the Randians out-organized the residual paleocon ostriches who back Romney, as they backed McCain.

Velly eenteresting. Recall that McCain had staked the moderate wing of the 2008 campaign... the "maverick" who betrayed us by immediately kowtowing to the psychos (you know which act I refer-to) and to the party rulers, whose BrainTrust simply slipped laterally into the McCain campaign. So much for maverick.

Paul is another matter. Without any doubt he has the largest net product of sanity, sincerity and intelligence of the lot... probably as much as all the others combined. Though I do consider him as mad as a hatter in many ways.

At least he is capable of distilling the blatant fact that we should not have spent a decade repeating Vietnam.

Moreover, his debates with Obama would feature actual content, between gentlemen.

Alas, I see no chance that the psychos and/or the oligarchs would trust Paul any father than he could toss as newly delivered baby.

Robert said...

I want Bachmann to win. I hope that Romney loses in New Hampshire as well and that Bachmann does fairly well in NH, well enough to get enough momentum going to carry the Republican nomination.

The moderates won't tolerate Bachmann. She's nuts. Her anti-reproductive freedom beliefs will get any woman who believes in abortion to vote against her, Hispanics will vote against her anti-immigration stance, and moderates will back her because they don't want a complete psycho as President.

Hopefully, enough Moderates will come out against Bachmann that it will cause a significant loss of power for the Republican party in the House and maybe even result in one or two seats in the Senate being lost as well. In fact, if the Loon Squad is swept out of the House, leaving only the more moderate Republicans who believe in consensus and negotiation, then perhaps we'll see Republicans realize that embracing the Tea Party was a bad idea up there with sending colonists to investigate an alien spaceship without warning them that the critters like to incubate inside of people.

I want the Republican party humbled again. And I want moderates to realize that they can't sit back and let Republicans just do what they want because you risk having "mandates" from minority factions.

Lastly, I want the Tea Party to realize that they ARE the minority and that the only reason they had any power at all was the news media (and specifically Fox News). I want them to realize they can't control the country or force their beliefs down the throats of the majority. I want them to suffer the same fate that the "Moral Majority" (which wasn't) and previous Republican Factions have gone through: dissolution.

Bachmann will bring that about. Romney is an actual threat, though not nearly the threat that the former ambassador of China would be if he won the nomination by some miracle.

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

Phrasing belief in reproductive choice as "Belief in abortion" is unfortunate, (And, I think, unintentional.). The notion of most Americans being not trustworthy enough to deserve choice should set off plenty of alarm bells.

Paul said...

Tim H,
"Phrasing belief in reproductive choice as "Belief in abortion" is unfortunate"

This is because the anti-abortionists have set the tone of the debate. No one can say "Pro-abortion" to mean pro-choice.

Hell, increasingly, they can't even say "pro" choice. No, they reluctantly support choice.

They have to say "While I am saddened by any form of abortion, I feel that allowing the government to interfere with a woman's health..."

Trying to sound anti-abortion for the pro-lifers, anti-government for the broader conservatives, but pro-choice for the moderates.

David Brin said...

Look, I fantasize of the GOP suffering a complete meltdown, followed by a rebellion by the paleocons and libertarians, rising in outrage - at last - over the hijacking of their movement by oligarchs, hostile foreign powers and psychos.

Any truly careful observer would note that 90% of my complaints about the current undead were-elephant are parsed from the perspective of a Goldwater or Buckley version of Van Helsing. Almost none of them are ever from a left wing POV. I feel that just one million roused ostriches could end our current, insanely debilitating "culture" war and ruin the plan that our enemies have made for us.

But I am also waking up to the power of personality in all of this. Conservatives are LOYAL to (and far beyond) a fault. They will rationalize reasons to stick by the old party. Rationalization follows rationalization...

Look this is the same trait that makes a conservative a better next door neighbor. You gain his loyalty, you can keep it. A liberal is, by nature, a flighty being, eager, curious, ready for change... and unlikely to bend to formalisms or a unified program. Perhaps the reason why liberals can't manage tyranny, but need to be reminded that leftists CAN.

Hence... no... I'm not so sure I want to put America through the risk of a Nechemia Scudder-type candidate, even with a 70% chance of her self-demolition. Remember, they still run Diebold!

No, I prefer a Paul-Obama election. An actual set of debates between grownups. Who might actually do the utopian thing that I refer to HERE.
http://www.davidbrin.com/candidatestipulation.htm

A Paul-Obama race could... if they follow my scenario... result in one big thing. an end to the insane drug war.

Robert said...

Except for one thing, Dr. Brin. I am one of those extremely loyal conservatives... who felt so betrayed by what the Republican Party became, I abandoned it to its coywolf elements. Voting Democrat leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I curse what Republicans have made me do. But I won't vote for Republicans while they remain in this Radicalized form.

I'm not alone. A number of people left the Republican party. And while they voted Republican two years later... they witnessed the end result was a group of people who refused to negotiate in good faith and ultimately damaged the nation as a result.

Think of it: if the debt ceiling had just been raised but a serious debate had started on trying to balance the budget, the U.S. credit rating wouldn't have gone down. No one would have cared. The end result would likely have been a better deal than what was garnered, the world with faith in the U.S. to keep its financial word, and the Tea and Republican parties looking good.

Instead, we have market turmoil and a lot of people angry at what the Tea Party has wrought. And the Tea Party is going to try to play this for all it's worth. They'll call this the Obama Downgrade and people will go "wait a minute, you guys are the one who refused to just raise the Debt Limit and refused to negotiate."

What's more, I'm not trying to catch the hearts and souls of the Tea Party fanatics and the absolute die-hard Republicans. I want the new Independents that said "f##k you b##tards, I'm leaving the party. You betrayed everything you were supposed to stand for under Bush!" and the Moderates who were upset at how Democrats dropped the ball big-time, for these people to come out in mass and vote out Republicans. I want Republicans in Red States to have close matches despite the gerrymandering so they realize they aren't safe from the voters' wrath.

Hell, I want to see Boehner with genuine tears in his eyes as he's forced to cease being Speaker of the House after only two years because of how he dropped the ball.

And unless the Tea Party stops being absolute dicks over everything, 2012 will have this because people will see how little the Tea Party wants to play well with others - even in their own party.

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

An interesting piece of applied science here:
http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2011/08/12/a_startlingly_good_leukemia_trial.php
The therapy involves genetically modifying T-cells to more efficiently attack cancerous cells, and re-inject them into the patient.

David Brin said...

Jumping jiminey:

http://themoderatevoice.com/99268/michele-bachman-rewrites-civil-war-history/

http://themoderatevoice.com/99268/
michele-bachman-rewrites-civil-war-history/

rewinn said...

I'm not sure why China needs an aircraft carrier, when its soveriegn wealth funds have the constitutional right to elect a president. Using our military has got to be cheaper than expanding their own!

---

Many in the anti-abortion movement consider nearly all forms of birth control to be abortion. The Pill, for example, is abortion because it (among other things) blocks the implantation of fertilized eggs or (as they put it) "kills babies".

I can supply citations but I'd rather not link to the websites of these freakzoids.

---

Dr. Paul - who not incidentally is a life-starts-at-conception guy and therefore a disaster for our freedom - might be preferable on foreign policy to a great many Democrats. He would make it an interesting race.

I auppose Pawlenty's dropping out to preserve his viability as a VP candidate?

Jacob said...

Many Pro-Life people may believe that birth control encourages bad behavior. However, most Pro-Life people are more reasonable. The whole Life/Choice option is too poorly examined. Its a politically charged issue that shortcuts to disagreement rather than discussion and exploring new options.

We should be working towards solutions that work for 80-90%+ of America. One that will include all but the fanatical wings of both movements. Consider this long term solution, we can use research to develop an alternative to Abortion. Transferring the fetus to another woman would maintain the freedom of the mother and the life of the child.

I am Pro-Science as I believe you can use it to solve any problem on a long enough time scale.

Palu said...

That's pretty funny Jacob. You can't even get pro-lifers to adapt unwanted kids but you think they would accept fetus transfers? Never mind pro-science, let's be pro-reality.

Jacob said...

That kind of position/attitude doesn't help. Address the underlying issue. Be vocal and message consistently and effectively. By doing so, you can significantly reduce the impact of the small % of actual unreasonable out there.

Unfortunately Democrats aren't very good at messaging.

Robert said...

It's not that Democrats are not good at getting the message out. It's that people hear the message they want to hear, and conservatives are apt to jump all over one minor element of a message and distort the entire thing. Democrats do the same to Republicans, mind you, at which point Fox News starts crowing about how Democrats distort everything Republicans say. (This is not to say the news media outside of Fox doesn't do this to Conservatives. Just that Fox is especially loud with their crowing.)

Rob H.

Palu said...

Another funny post Jacob.

You say "That kind of position/attitude doesn't help."
and then shortly after that say "Unfortunately Democrats aren't very good at messaging".

Is that kind of position/attitude helpful? Just asking.

I guess the comment about Democrats was a dig, but since I agree with you about Democrats I'm not offended.

Regarding the abortion debate, I've spoken with probably hundreds of pro-life people and I've not met one that is reasonable on the subject. Perhaps you can enlighten me on what a reasonable pro-life position would be.

David Brin said...

Be depressed, be very depressed.

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/15/139646573/bill-puts-ethics-spotlight-on-supreme-court-justices

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/15/139646573/bill-puts-
ethics-spotlight-on-supreme-court-justices

Paul... let's be fair. Many pro-lifers HAVE adopted or done foster care. Rep. Bachmann has. Such people may be crazy as hell, but the deserve two non-hpocrisy points.

Nevertheless, I keep waiting for someone to make explicit how much worse the "heartland" does in most metrics like divorce rates, STDs, and even pre-marital sex.

Jacob said...

Hi Rob,

I think they are bad at messaging or at least bad at thinking of a good message that will reach people. Picking one detail out of a mix to argue about is normal human behavior. Fox is a problem, but could be worked around.

Hi Palu,

I think you have a point. I was objecting to classifying the movement by the extreme. You push away people that can be reached by careful conversation.

I painted the Democrats as poor communicators. That is something that is certainly true at the extreme, but not necessarily so as a rule. In my opinion, its generally true, but that could be purely perspective.

I'm pretty sure the reason you are having trouble finding reasonable Pro-Life people is one of approach. Try reading 'The Political Brain' by Drew Westen. I disagree with most of his conclusions, but you can learn a lot about having a conversation from it. If you can learn to avoid words that shortcut the conversation to disagreement, you will have a lot more success.

rewinn said...

Let me repeat: many of those who say "Life Begins At Conception" believe The Pill and IUDs is Abortion. This includes the Catholic Bishops and ProLife America (google it - I won't help them with a link to their very explicit statements on that topic.)

These are not fringes of the anti-abortion movement; these are the core of the movement.

There may be a minority of "reasonable" anti-abortionists who think that The Pill is o.k. and IUDs are all right. History tells us that the rank and file of many movements don't often think through the entirety of their positions; that's how leaders get their followers to cut their own throats. If the pattern is followed, such "reasonable" people will express surprise and dismay when they discover themselves condemned by those they put into power, but of course it will by them be too late.

This is not to say we should not reach out the hand of friendship when we have interests in common; Catholic bishops, for example, are often very enlightened when it comes to supporting workers and the poor. The complexity of reality makes it difficult accurately to characterize most people as Evil (or Good, for that matter); fortunately such characterization is rarely necessary or helpful. If and when Bachmann and her ilk actually help twenty or more children, give her and the the credit they deserves (it's only fair) and then ask them why they want to hurt millions of of other children. Relating policy to a physical reality that they have experienced may help cut through the ideology.

David Brin said...

You guys want to see some cracks in the lunatic camp? I happen to know if this one because the author - Pamela Geller - is a notorious jibbering hate-monger whose presence on the Lifeboat Foundation has nearly caused it to self-destruct as many futurists, technies and thinkers resign out of protest.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/08/perrys_problematic_pals.html

http://www.americanthinker.com/
2011/08/perrys_problematic_pals.html

And yet, I am linking you to her insane blog. Why?

Because first it is good to be the people who actually read the words of opponents.

Second, because this posting shows a major crack among the loonies, wherein Texas Gov Rick Perry is being demonized for his friendship and deals with certain Islamic groups. See especially the parts about Gover Norquist, whose absolute power over the GOP in matters of tax policy resulted in the blanket "pledge" hysteria to never even remove cheating tax breaks, since that might enhance revenue.

Want irony? I despise as cackling loons people like Geller... who nevertheless... by the route of paranoid delusion rather than reason... are the only people connecting the dots all the way back to Riyadh.

What she doesn't do is take it the final step, to realize that the Republican program, as enunciated by Norquist, would then logically, top to bottom, be plotted out in order to harm the United States. Note that, as a radical rightist, she cannot bring herself to connect that final deduction.

In any event, feed this stuff to your crazies. You "lost down the rabbit hole" ostriches. If we cannot lure them out by appeals to sanity, maybe we can help them take sides in schisms among the totally insane.

Jacob said...

Hi rewinn,

I really don't think that's the case. One of us has the wrong impression and I'll admit it could just as easily be me as you. From my perspective, there is a major difference between Republican Voters and Republican Policy Setters (Politicians, Media, and Special Interest Groups).

R Voters aren't really extremists. They are just those that have R bias and respond to the messaging used by Republican Powers. I believe they are being used. When speaking to someone that digs in when challenged, you have to change your approach.

Let's continue to use the Pro-Life example. The first step is listening. The second is exploring their point. The last step is trying to see that they understand where you are coming from.

"Life begins at conception." Accept their point. In good faith, figure out if they believe in capitol punishment. Does intervening for a child also justify intervening in foreign lands to prevent genocide? If they largely believe in protecting those that can't protect themselves, does that mean we should have future safeguards until the child can become an adult? If it's just about taking/expecting "Personal Responsibility," aren't there parallels on Crime? We don't expect personal responsibility to prevent Crime. We spend quite a bit to limit its damage. Likewise, I don't expect great outcomes from placing an unwanted baby in home. We, as a society, should work to ensure there are better outcomes.

The most important thing is to pay attention to the other person and the conversation. Try to pull away from arguments. If you find (or already know) that the other person has decided you are wrong, you can only hurt your position by continuing to talk about it.

If you have a good relationship with them, don't be shy about saying they don't qualify to be a Pro-Life Member. Some people are just Pro-Birth. They aren't willing to take any action / responsibility after that point.

Robert said...

I have a simpler viewpoint. If the person is willing to take a pledge that they will pay for the insurance (or help pay for it) of the expectant mother, pay (or help pay for) the insurance for the infant until ten years of age, help pay for medical costs, loss of work, and so forth, food for the child, clothing for the child, maternity clothing... then they have a right to call themselves Pro-Life and can say abortion is wrong.

If they refuse, they are hypocrites who should be ignored because they don't ultimately care for the woman or the unborn child, but instead are trying to force their political will over someone else.

Far too often these very same "Pro-Lifers" are anti-welfare, anti-social safety net, and anti-services. They demand that women have babies they might not want and then toss them to the wolves. When these women abandon their infants, they call for blood and insist these women who were abandoned by society are liable for being unable to care for a child.

I personally feel abortion is wrong. But I have NO right telling a woman that she cannot have an abortion. I will stand by a woman's choice to have an abortion despite my feelings on it. Because a woman's right to choose is more important than my own personal opinions.

Rob H.

Jacob said...

Hi Rob,

The first part of your post is excellent. Just remember that it takes time for conservatives to get comfortable with a new idea. So long as talk about the value inherit in your beliefs, you'll have a lot of success. You packaged some known ideas in a different light. Those with a robust ethics are likely to respond.

For the second part, you focused on the language used by the Pro-Choice movement. You are likely to undo any success with the first part. If you are too confrontational up front, you will pull out the contrary and proud of it factor.

Finally, you aren't going to have any luck with ~right to have a abortion~. On the other hand, you would be successful with a right to freedom or self determination. In the present, that means an abortion. But set a path (my Pro-Science or some other idea) that would allow women that self determination without the use of the tool Abortion.

Life, Liberty, AND the pursuit of Happiness.

rewinn said...

@Jacob -
"I really don't think that's the case..."
It's hard to tell what your referent is here, but if you're doubting that the leadership of the anti-abortion movement consider The Pill to be an abortifacient then (following Dr. Brin's admonition that it's better to read their actual words) I refer you to "Pill propelled into abortion debate", which discusses GOP bills to let pharmacists refused to dispense The Pill because they believed it caused abortions (the article is from 2004 but the attempts continue today); to
Pro-Life America
— Facts on Abortion
and to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops website search here. The bishops are a bit coy on the subject, preferring to denounce The Pill on other grounds, but if you follow CatholicsVote.org (such as I do) you'll get condemnation of the "Contraceptive Mandate" because it requires government funding of The Pill.

(Incidentally that latter group is one of several congratulating Governor Perry for regretting his signing a bill for giving an anti-cancer vaccine to 6th-graders. That is not a misprint; Perry signed the HPV bill, but because that outraged politically powerful groups who consider cervical cancer the natural result of unprotected sex, he now regrets having done so. The Texas Legislature overruled Perry, which is lucky for him ... and lucky for the gravediggers.)

Jacob said...

I don't believe it is 'a minority' of Pro-Life supporters who are extreme. I think the vast majority of Pro-life supporters just can't get over the fact that an Abortion terminates what would have otherwise become a baby. Give them alternatives to the tool - abortion and you'll find happy converts.

Robert said...

Several Republicans have tried to push legislation through that would make a woman guilty of murder for having a miscarriage should there be ANY doubt as to the cause. In other words, should she slip and fall down a flight of stairs and miscarry, she could be charged for murder because she might not have tried hard enough to stop herself from falling. And technically, if she didn't care for herself well enough to prevent a natural miscarriage then she's also guilty of murder.

These people are fanatics. They are bloody well insane and should not be mollycoddled or humored. And if other Pro-Lifers who are more "moderate" in their beliefs wish to avoid being tarred with the same brush, they should openly disassociate themselves with their lunatic brethren. That they won't is evidence of their complicity to their more insane brethren.

Rob H.

Jonathan S. said...

I think the vast majority of Pro-life supporters just can't get over the fact that an Abortion terminates what would have otherwise become a baby.

Correction: what might have become a baby. According to the American Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, between 10 and 25 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Many of these happen even before the woman concerned realizes she is pregnant.

Misuse of terms can do nothing but prolong the "debate", as each side hunkers down behind a barricade of their own word choices.

Jacob said...

Hi Rob,

I think that kind of thing is due to the way we elect people. Pandering to special interest for approval and campaign donations.

Republicans controlled all 3 branches of our government from 2000-2006. If they wanted to make it illegal, they would have. Rather they want to USE Republican voters. Democrats need to be throwing this in their face and offering a real alternative (Science) to the problem.

When you call people fanatics, you make it harder to reach them. I think those that would have responded to it, already have. If you can't reach them, we're not likely to pull them away from the actual problem. Play hardball, but smart hardball. Understanding how to avoid strong opposition is key.

Hi Jonathan,

The debate as we do it now (Life vs Choice) is unending. It will never resolve. We need to identify the valid parts of both movements, then invent something new that addresses them.

David Brin said...

Jacob amen. Official rant dogma is one thing - scream it but never enact it. The REAL agenda is what you actually pass. And that amounted to two things:

1- Two trillion dollar wars of attrition in Asia

2- a trillion $ in gifts to the oligarchy.

Those passed. the rest is meat for the mob. Dangle it. Never give it.

------
A few of the odder ideas from Rick Perry's book, Fed Up: Social Security is evil, All bank regulation is unconstitutional, as are labor laws, and federal laws protecting civil rights.
http://thinkprogress.org/yglesias/2011/08/15/295427/295427/

While of course, much of this is bizarre - an example of an entire wing of American politics turning away from the intellectual solemnity and courteous argument of Goldwater and Buckley down paths of fact-free incantation -- nevertheless, you'll note that Perry is no Rush Limbaugh. No Glen Beck. Speaking as a science fiction author, I must say that some of his arguments exhibit a certain "alternate universe" charm to them. A few even show real, imaginative verve!

Take item #1... the claim that the Civil War started with the Fugitive Slave Act (FSA) of 1851. I am astonished and my regard for Perry just went up three notches! This is, of course, the raw truth that historians and pundits all miss.

Today, Southern Romanticists claim the Civil War started because slave states were tired of federal abuse, but in fact southern politicians ran the Federal government during most of the 40 years preceding Fort Sumter. Southern presidents appointed the US Marshals in northern states, who permitted bands of irregular southern cavalry to rampage across Ohio, Illinois etc at will, crashing through houses, dragging off neighbors to slavery.

When locals resisted, those marshals called out the US Army. Gradually, northern people were radicalized till they stood up and elected Lincoln. In this, Perry is right and all the historians wrong.

What I don't get is where he then takes this fact. Doesn't it show the hypocrisy of "states rights" romantics? Apparently Perry thinks the opposite! The Southerners used the federal government to bully the north... and this somehow excuses the slave states' later secession? I have tried to follow Perry's logic, but keep failing. Since... well... he is part of an insane movement that hijacked American conservatism and set Barry Goldwater spinning in his grave, I guess that's not surprising.

Still, I give him credit for being more INTERESTING than pure lunatics like Bachmann. I think I'd buy him a beer, just to listen to the rationalizations and get grist for novels. He's probably even fun!

Still and all, why is the media ignoring Ron Paul?

Paul said...

Jacob,
"Consider this long term solution, [...] Transferring the fetus to another woman would maintain the freedom of the mother and the life of the child."

If you can transfer a foetus between women, you can probably extract, cryostore, and re-implant a foetus too. In which case, a teen pregnancy goes from financial burden, to investment in her own future fertility.

Nonetheless, neither transplant, nor cryo-delay, will please pro-lifers, and especially not the Catholic Church. Unnatural. Unclean.

Weird observation, some years ago: Our state changed its laws on assault-causing-miscarriage, because previously the law didn't recognise a foetus as alive until it's first breath. So beating a women into miscarriage was a common assault, because there was no "permanent harm".

This was a hold-over Protestant-based law. And I thought the Catholics did something similar until recently, still-births not being given Last Rites or burial on hallowed ground.

It felt like the whole "life begins at conception" obsession arose after medical abortion was invented.

- Paul.
Who is neither Ron nor Saint, nor posts as Palu.

(latswor: Back page of the New Typist magazine.)

Paul said...

Jonathan S,
"between 10 and 25 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage."

That probably doesn't include twins re-absorbing? (Even non-identical twins on rare occasions. I'm sure you've read about genetically-chimeric women.)

Actually the whole twin thing demolishes the "life begins at conception" thing. If one fertilised egg becomes two identical twins, what does it mean to say it was "alive" as a single entity before twinning?

(Does murdering a genetic-chimera count as a double homicide?)

- Paul.
Who is neither Ron nor Saint, nor posts as Palu.

Jacob said...

Can anyone recommend a good book that does an honest job of exploring the dangers of States Rights? I support the concept of localized government so long as the Federal government steps in to prevent minority rights from being abused. It's a pretty concept. I need to learn more about it's pitfalls to see which I can't overcome.

Hi Paul,

I agree that there are some people that simply will not compromise to alternatives. However, I assert that there are more that will. I think we can get 80-90%+ of America on board with one or several of them. I know they will work for my religious fundamentalist friends. I've talked with them about it. They said they didn't think the Pro-Choice people would ever agree to it. (chuckles)

David Brin said...

Anyone recall my explanation for why the right became fixated on abortion? The "Jesus Effect?"

Corey said...

Ron Paul did well in the straw poll, but he ALWAYS tends to do well in straw polls. The nature of them is such that they're very easy to bias towards candidates with very fervent groups of followers (because they don't use a random sample; it's just based on whoever shows up to the event).


Despite this fact, he's never been able to translate that into any significant momentum for a presidential bid. What's more, his ideas are the same silly, impractical oversimplifications that they've been since before I was born.

I just think he's run enough times, and changed little enough, that he's just becoming old news.

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

@Paul

You raise a couple of rather amusing questions about the "life begins at conception" nonsense.


I don't think I've ever considered those particular conundrums before. The first one especially creates a fundamental problem for strict pro-lifers.

David Brin said...

I agree that Ron Paul is about 35% stark crazy.

That still leaves him the sanest of the bunch, the only one with a detailed (if skewed) view of history and - above all - the only one free of control by Rupert Murdoch.

Were he the nominee, we'd see immediate moves toward ending all our wars... including the loopy suicidal War on Drugs. With his flank free to do so, Obama could move in those directions while seeming the reluctant one.

Above all, Paul would argue like a gentleman and he would not do what "maverick" McCain did, and simply transfer the Bush brain trust laterally into his campaign, intending them to go to the White house yet again.

Paul would shatter the current GOP coalition and get libertarian ideas openly debated. Don't forget, I consider myself to be a libertarian! Albeit a titanically heretical one, who believes Adam Smith today would be a democrat. Paul has swallowed a lot of Rand nonsense and he is probably lost to sanity. But his kind of insanity is not concocted in Riyadh with the direct aim of our destruction.

It is home grown.

Paul said...

How to react to being filmed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMMPV4D6cs0"

How not to react.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110812/23525115512/police-try-to-bring-wiretapping-charges-against-woman-who-filmed-them-beating-man.shtml

Robert said...

There is a real-day current example of States Rights vs. Federal Rights. It's called... the European Union.

Seriously. The EU is about the sovereignty of nation-states while being a part of a larger federal government. The sovereignty of nation-states has resulted in the inability of the EU to cope with the debt of the various nation-states due to the lack of power to force compliance.

So next time someone starts chanting "States Rights" go "Oh, you mean like the European Union? Are you sure we want to get into the mess they're in?"

Rob H.

Ian said...

David,

I think you will be pleasantly surprised by Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

It's not yet another retread of the decrepit Frankenstein story nor is it an anti-uplift story.

If anything, much like your own writings about SETI,it's an appeal for a cautious reasoned approach to Uplift.

Ian said...

"Paul would shatter the current GOP coalition and get libertarian ideas openly debated."

If allowed to get his agenda through Congress he'd also be responsible for stripping hundreds of thousands if not millions of African Americans of the vote, severely restricting abortion rights and severely restricting the rights of gays.

His economic policies would lead to default and a massive run on the dollar.

When the price of oil hit $500 a barrel he'd probably decide this was a commie/Jew conspiracy against American freedom and launch a series of foreign military interventions that's make bush the Lesser look sane.

rewinn said...

@Dr. Brin - can you link to your "Jesus Effect" essay on the political utility of the abortion argument? It is a neat and helpful analysis but I lost my link.

@Jacob - I agree that many ordinary Americans who call themselves "anti-abortion" would be perfectly o.k. with IUDs or The Pill, which is why it's helpful to point out that their leadership is not. Nations and cultures don't march back to the Dark Ages in a single leap, but only step by step.

====
@Ian's points about effects of Dr. Paul's policy are sound; the casualness with which his brand of Libertarianism support police enforcement of whites-only lunchcounters is breathtaking. It leads me to wonder if we could find a gay airplane pilot somewhere who would throw Dr. Paul off his aircraft because, you know, it's the pilot's contractual right to refuse service to any passenger. Dr. Paul is free to buy a ticket from a "straights-only" airline if he can find one!

===

But To A Different Subject ...

Does anyone see anything wrong with the city of Renton punishing police officers who criticized their superiors via a web cartoon?

Corey said...

The entire abortion issue is just a mess, plain and simple.

BOTH sides of the issues are filled with extremists, non as extreme as the religious right, but it's very rare that I actually hear a reasonable point of view on the topic.

More often than not, it's just two sets of extremes talking past each other (again, with the caveat that one side is 10 times as extreme as the other).

As a result, we never actually get a genuine national discussion on the abortion topic that really addresses the relevant biological science, or the medical and legal precedents, that are really involved in evaluating the issue of potential rights of unborn children as compared to the reproductive rights of women.



It's a sad situation on all ends, with this poor biology student generally stuck in the middle.



@rewinn

That's a touchy situation with the police thing.

On the one hand, he's using an employee's knowledge of a work place to ridicule a group closely connected to his place of employment in public. I can understand that side of the city.

On the other hand, he works for the public, and should be free to criticize the government regardless of who he is.


I can see the city's dilemma, but I'm highly surprised that his video wasn't considered protected free speech under the 14th Amendment. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Selective Incorporation applies to all levels of government, not just states, doesn't it?

LarryHart said...

Jacob:

Unfortunately Democrats aren't very good at messaging.


Y'know how our esteemed host keeps pointing out that his criticisms of the present-day Republican Party are all from a CONSERVATIVE perspective? He's not trying to argue that Republicans are bad by lefty standards, but by traditional CONSERVATIVE standards--the implication being that real conservatives should rebel behind the lines?

I think that's kinda/sorta what the Democrats mean to do when they accept the Republican framing of the message. Unfortunately (and I'm agreeing with you here), they do it the worst way possible. They accept at face value the problem as identified by Republicans, but then instead of demonstrating that actual Republican policies make that problem worse instead of better, they try to convince voters that they (Dems) are willing to implement the same solutions that the Republicans would.

For example:

A recent Republican meme has been that, in the middle of a Great Recession, it is suddenly imperative to slash government spending.

A LIBERAL response would be "No it isn't...we have to put people to work rebuilding our infrastructure and get money into circulation in order to stimulate demand."

A Brin-like "They're failing by their own standards" argument would be "But extending the Bush tax cuts EXACERBATES the deficit, as does the Paul Ryan budget. Whereas the 'Peoples Budget' proposed by the Progrssive Caucus in congress actually DOES deficit reduction."

What President Obama seems to like to do instead: "Gosh, you're right, we have to cut the deficit right away. You voters don't have to vote for Republicans to make that happen--I'll do it too."

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Second, because this posting shows a major crack among the loonies, wherein Texas Gov Rick Perry is being demonized for his friendship and deals with certain Islamic groups. See especially the parts about Gover Norquist, whose absolute power over the GOP in matters of tax policy resulted in the blanket "pledge" hysteria to never even remove cheating tax breaks, since that might enhance revenue.

Want irony? I despise as cackling loons people like Geller... who nevertheless... by the route of paranoid delusion rather than reason... are the only people connecting the dots all the way back to Riyadh.


Remember when George Bush was going to out-source the protection of US port facilities to a middle-eastern company?

They couldn't sell it to their own consititents because they had whipped those constituents into a frenzy of post-9/11 anti-Arab hysteria. Then they tried to go "Fear of middle-easterners and paranoia about airport security are fine for getting you guys to vote Republican, but this is BUSINESS, and really, it's ok." And it didn't work.


What she doesn't do is take it the final step, to realize that the Republican program, as enunciated by Norquist, would then logically, top to bottom, be plotted out in order to harm the United States. Note that, as a radical rightist, she cannot bring herself to connect that final deduction.


Agreed, but I'm not sure this can be overcome. The bedrock assumption is that Conservative authority figures (especially Christian, capitalist Republican ones) LOVE AMERICA. That they might guess wrong on strategy is believable, but that they would deliberately collude with America's enemies? That (to their minds) is what LIBERALS do, not conservatives.

Rembember, Perry not too long ago was talking secessionism to cheering crowds. Yet he now enteres the race as someone who LOVES AMERICA (as opposed to President Obama, who doesn't). If that doesn't bother the righties, then they're certainly not going to credit your Saudi scenario.

(To any fans of "Phineas and Ferb" out there, I expect to use a lot of "Hey, where's Perry?" and "Oh, there you are, Perry." jokes in the coming weeks)

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Still and all, why is the media ignoring Ron Paul?


Because he's anti-war and anti-corporate-welfare, and the Corporate Media are pro both of those things?

Thom Hartmann often points out that he knew Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign had just ended when Dean was on some talk show and advocated limitations on campaign spending. To the networks, of course, such spending is a cash cow. The next day (according to Hartmann) was the day the "Dean scream" video was widely distributed, and Dean became a punch-line.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

I agree that Ron Paul is about 35% stark crazy.

That still leaves him the sanest of the bunch, the only one with a detailed (if skewed) view of history and - above all - the only one free of control by Rupert Murdoch.


I think you just answered your own question as to why the media ignore Ron Paul.


Were he the nominee, we'd see immediate moves toward ending all our wars... including the loopy suicidal War on Drugs.
...
Paul would shatter the current GOP coalition and get libertarian ideas openly debated.


Was your question about ignoring Ron Paul meant rhetorically? Otherwise, I'm afraid YOU'RE not connecting dots here. You keep listing REASONS why the media would totally ignore Ron Paul as a serious candidate.


But his kind of insanity is not concocted in Riyadh with the direct aim of our destruction.

It is home grown.


And if your personal theory is correct, then THIS would be the biggest reason of all.

sociotard said...

If allowed to get his agenda through Congress he'd also be responsible for stripping hundreds of thousands if not millions of African Americans of the vote, severely restricting abortion rights and severely restricting the rights of gays.

You have a point regarding abortion. He does oppose it. That said, everything else in this paragraph is way off. I've seen him say the opposite of some of these things in interviews, so I'm going to have to ask you to validate this before I believe any of it.

His economic policies would lead to default and a massive run on the dollar. Possibly. I at least believe he would pay off debt whenever possible, and he would actually oppose federal government power.

When the price of oil hit $500 a barrel he'd probably decide this was a commie/Jew conspiracy against American freedom and launch a series of foreign military interventions that's make bush the Lesser look sane.

What? Have you listened to him? One of his bigger arguments is that military adventurism is bad. He voted against the Iraq war, one of the only Republicans to do so.

Corey said...

Sociotard is right here (at least insofar as I understand Paul).

I disagree with him strongly on some things, and frankly, I think implementing his vision of America in total would be nothing short of cataclysmic, but let's give credit where credit is due.


Paul has also said a number of things on a number of issues that also have some thinking behind them, and are very reasonable. It's just Brin's 35% part that scares me :)


On the subject of media ignoring him, Jon Stewart did a funny little piece that seems to sum it up pretty well (hopefully the link works):

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-august-15-2011/indecision-2012---corn-polled-edition---ron-paul---the-top-tier?xrs=playershare_fb

David Brin said...

Dang Paul, that video of a cop being filmed by a person at a traffic stop is an example of professionalism every other police officer should be required to watch. The kind of cop we want on the streets. One who is both smart and skilled and aware of the era that he lives in. In fact, the fellow filming the encounter was a bit of a prissy jerk. All told, though. A fabulous "how to do it right" video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMMPV4D6cs0"

Robert, the thing that's terrifying and fascinating, that no one else has pondered is... say the EU gets past this current crisis... and then one day the Bahamas applies for membership? What's to stop them from changing the "E" from "European" to "Earth"?

Ian, did I say I want Ron Paul to be president? I assume he would be torched at the polls. And even in office he'd be stopped from Randian insanity by Congress etc. What I would relish is the electoral campaign and the debates. They'd be fascinating, both lively and courteous. Fun and thought provoking. And with his flank secure, Obama could then "reluctantly go along" with an end to all our wars. Especially on Drugs.

Rewinn & Corey see:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2007/01/both-right-and-left-have-gone-quite.html

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2007/01/both-right-
and-left-have-gone-quite.html

LarryHart you are right. In some ways, liberals need the guts to stand up and say liberal things. Krugman is doing that, standing up for Keynes. It happens I have a knack for what I am doing, though. ANd I think that getting several million ostriches to stand up against the monsters who've hijacked their movement is the best way to END this phase of Civil War, rather than win a few battles in it.

"The bedrock assumption is that Conservative authority figures (especially Christian, capitalist Republican ones) LOVE AMERICA."

Hm... yes. even though in Red America, half the males have nursed fantasies of traveling in time and riding with Nathan Bedford Forest and saving "the Cause." SUch folks have nothing to teach me about patriotism.

rewinn said...

The Union of Concerned Scientists invites you to vote for your favorite cartoon about political interference in science. I'd like to see some better (funnier) cartoons but at least they're trying.

Ian said...

"What? Have you listened to him? One of his bigger arguments is that military adventurism is bad."

Yes, he's also violently xenophobic and an ardent believer in conspiracy theories.

His economic policies would almost inevitably lead to a collapse in the US dollar and to outright repudiation of the national debt.

When the US dollar is no longer a convertible currency and the US is effecitvely back on the barter economy by way of a currency board, who do you think he's going to blame? His own policies or the international banking cabal that he thinks has been secretly conspiring against America for the last 150 years?

Bush, you'll recall came to office pledging and end to nation building and foreign interventions.

Look how that turend out.

Reagan wasgoign to cut the deficit and pay off the national debt.

Look how that turned out.

Tacitus2 said...

Political lamp dark.

But I did have to notice:

"Hm... yes. even though in Red America, half the males have nursed fantasies of traveling in time and riding with Nathan Bedford Forest and saving "the Cause." SUch folks have nothing to teach me about patriotism."

David, a throw away unsubstantiated statement. I can only conclude that a bit of Harry Turtledove envy is showing!

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

LarryHart you are right. In some ways, liberals need the guts to stand up and say liberal things. Krugman is doing that, standing up for Keynes. It happens I have a knack for what I am doing, though. ANd I think that getting several million ostriches to stand up against the monsters who've hijacked their movement is the best way to END this phase of Civil War, rather than win a few battles in it.


I think you misread what I wrote. I DO with liberals would stand up for liberal things, but I was saying that IF President Obama would rather tar the Republicans in conservatives' own terms (as you do), then he should do a better job of THAT. He shouldn't just try to convince conservatives that he'll do the SAME THINGS that the Republicans say they'll do.


"The bedrock assumption is that Conservative authority figures (especially Christian, capitalist Republican ones) LOVE AMERICA."

Hm... yes. even though in Red America, half the males have nursed fantasies of traveling in time and riding with Nathan Bedford Forest and saving "the Cause." SUch folks have nothing to teach me about patriotism.


There's a HUGE disconnect between red America's image of itself as patriotic and its image of the federal govt. as its enemy. Sure they say they love the country, not the government, but it's bizarre to see the pretzels they twist themselves into in order to reconcile (say) Rick Perry's or Sarah Palin's secessionism with "loving America". They consider it treason to criticize President Bush during wartime, but they considered it their patriotic duty to criticize President Clinton during wartime.

Frankly, I wish they'd just admit they "love America" the same way that you and I love a good steak dinner. Which may be a correct usage of the word "love", but it is NOT patriotism.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, remove the explicit mentionof time travel. Limit it to daydreaming about "what-if" helping the Cause to prevail...

...and sorry, you have a fantasy that I have heard from any number of southern guys. I don't even blame em much. regional pride and underdog sympathy...

but I will not be preached to by such. And yes it is rampant.

sociotard said...

Funny. Evidently, the Fox folks do not like Ron Paul at all.
http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-august-15-2011/indecision-2012---corn-polled-edition---ron-paul---the-top-tier?xrs=share_fb

(please watch the video. It's a Daily Show clip and it's funny)

sociotard said...

Bush, you'll recall came to office pledging and end to nation building and foreign interventions.

Look how that turend out.

Reagan wasgoign to cut the deficit and pay off the national debt.

Look how that turned out.


Both those guys were governers before they were president. They had no track record of opposing war (and no opportunity to gain such a record).

Ron Paul has a record. Look at his votes! He actually opposed the war our Secretary of State voted for!

Tacitus2 said...

I shall take you David on your good word that "any number" is about 50%.

As to daydreams, we all have a few. They are in fact your stock in trade as a writer. I do not laud or condemn whimsy quite so quickly.

Moderate of me, no?

Tacitus

David Brin said...

Tacitus, on re-reading my remark that you just responded to, I realize that a normal scan of it does not work as I had intended.

I never meant YOU have a fantasy!

I meant like "on the one hand, you (generic "you") have this fantasy going around, that I have heard all my life from these good old boys... including some educated fellows, in numbers that make me guess that half of the men in that culture indulge in such daydreams."

Do you now see how I meant it? I did not mean it as a personal snark at you in any way and I apologize for that. A danger from first drafting responses.

Robert said...

Some links for you all.

First, to Dr. Brin: The French and German heads of state are proposing... a Eurozone Federal Government.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/16/merkel-sarkozy-eurozone-government_n_928436.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/16/
merkel-sarkozy-eurozone-government_n_928436.html

----------

Next... here's the URL of a really cool picture of a shooting star... seen from the International Space Station. I think it's the first picture of a shooting star taken from space, but I might be wrong. It's the first one I've seen, I'll tell you that! ^^;;

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/15/shooting-star-ron-garan_n_927119.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/15/
shooting-star-ron-garan_n_927119.html

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

Finally, here's an article on a cancer discovery... concerning how cancers migrate through the body. Hopefully with this knowledge doctors can try to prevent cancer from metastasizing.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/16/cancer-spread-jak-protein_n_928634.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/16/
cancer-spread-jak-protein_n_928634.html

Rob H.

P.S. - While I can understand some of the attraction toward the "Methods of Rationality" I have to say I find it unrealistic for a first year student to do all the stuff they have him doing in that story. It would have been far better to stretch out the story and been truer to the book plot... while keeping Harry as a rationalist who considers things (even magic) logically.

Harry Potter wasn't evident in that story. Instead, someone using his name was there, and that person wasn't a child. It would have been a far more effective story to see things through the mindset of a child who was trained in the methods of rationality... but who was still a child. This was missing from the story, which is its great failing.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

good pts except Yudkowsky was exactly like that kind of good-but-arrogant prodigy, I hear!

Robert said...

If I didn't already have an overfull plate, I'd pull out the old fanficcing habits and take the elements of "Methods" that do work... and rework them into the mythos of the Harry Potter books to stay true to the character of Harry and the world he inhabited.

There was no need to turn Harry Potter into a Magnificent Bastard who runs plots around and over every adult around him. Hell, I almost felt like I was reading "Shinji and Warhammer 40K" (a rather involved retelling of the Neon Genesis Evangaleon animes altering one fundamental aspect of the main character: he had a happy childhood. Oh, and was into the game Warhammer 40K which ends up spilling over into the world.

Both S&WH40K and HP:MoR have that tendency of "bigger and yet even bigger" for their protagonists, and a lot of audacity. Personally, I believe in remaining truer to the core characters when I did write fanfiction (it was very rare when I stepped away from that philosophy) which is a key part of why I had issues with HP:MoR (oddly enough, S&WH40K wasn't as big an issue, probably because it was a different medium than how I first encountered NGE, thus allowing myself to divorce myself from the previous continuity).

Rob H.

Jacob said...

HP:MoR is terribly unrealistic when it comes to Harry. However within the context of a magical world, the other characters are MUCH more realistic than those in the original.

I'll continue to read it just to be exposed to new ideas.

Tim H. said...

Here's something interesting, science and politics combine:
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/silicon-valley-billionaire-funding-creation-artificial-libertarian-islands-140840896.html
This is being discussed at the "Gin and Tacos" blog, where it's being described as sort of a lunatic asylum for libertarians. I see it as more of a potential cradle for the development of the technology we need to grow without further soiling the planet. Perhaps time to revisit Niven & Barnes' "Saturn's Race"

Tacitus2 said...

Gracious me, I perceived no offense intended and certainly took none.

My personal time travel-history altering daydream involves limiting the size of World War One. Can you imagine how much better off we would collectively be if it was just another round of the Franco-Prussian spat?

And with time to reflect you have reached a phrase I can live with

"..in numbers that make me guess that half of the men in that culture indulge in such daydreams."

An idea has been bothering me of late. For another time when politics is in season.

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

...An idea has been bothering me of late. For another time when politics is in season.


You keep asserting that the "political lamp is dark" as if it is not polite to discuss politics in this thread. Yet Dr Brin labeled the blog post "MOSTLY about science" (emphasis mine) and included a political mini-rant toward the end. So I don't share your perception that politics is somehow off limits here.

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart

YOU try living in Wisconsin, where the elections keep coming every couple of months (recall for the D senators yesterday...promised recall of the Gov. starts in Jan.)

There is more to life than politics.

T
Detritus of Empire

Robert said...

Very true. You never know when something tragic will strike, resulting in the death of a loved one... or witnessing someone's death. It's better to live life than to dwell on things that ultimately aren't important and have no immediate bearing on life.

Politics can wait for a week or two.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

YOU try living in Wisconsin...

There is more to life than politics.


Fair enough. It's YOUR political lamp that is dark.

I know what you mean, too. As much as I'm engaged by the current political climate, I have a hard time with people who proudly proclaim themselves to be "news junkies!", tuning into cable tv and the internet at all hours expecting new information every second.

Other things are good too. :)

rewinn said...

"...Can you imagine how much better off we would collectively be if it was just another round of the Franco-Prussian spat?..."

Interesting thought. Lenin never makes it to the Finland Station; Herr Schnickelgruber remains a failed painter. We'll never know, but it would be difficult to think of the outcome being worse than reality.

David Brin said...

onward