Sunday, October 30, 2011

From Religion to Biology: Destiny & the Singularity

== Biology!  Biology is Destiny! ==

Family living conditions in childhood are associated with significant effects in DNA that persist well into middle age. Researchers found clear differences in gene methylation between those brought up in families with very high and very low standards of living. More than twice as many methylation differences were associated with the combined effects of  wealth, housing conditions and occupation of parents (that is, early upbringing) than were associated with the current socio-economic circumstances in adulthood.

Now let’s be careful.  This is not Lamarckianism (inheriting of acquired traits by the next generation). Though another science report seems to imply that result in methylization studies, as well! No, what this shows is that the effects of childhood conditions can last for life, beyond mere malnutrition stunting of the brain or general health or psychological damage caused by poverty.  Those latter effects should be enough to convince anybody that society should invest in the children of the poor, even if adults are consigned to libertarian perdition, for their foolish choices.

But the new result reinforces the lesson. I consider myself to be a style of libertarian. But anyone who rejects socialist intervention to help poverty-wracked children is not only evil but also now clearly shown to be batshit crazy. And wrong.

An MORE waw-biology! Fascinating.  You’ve heard of “jumping genes” or retro transposons - that shift from one chromosome to another?  It turns out these events actually take place surprisingly often. According to one recent estimate, they occur in many or most brain cells, perhaps several hundred times within each cell. Each neuron is likely subjected to a unique combination of insertions, leading to a genetic variability within populations of cells.The full significance of this "genomic plasticity" is still not clear, but the authors suggest that it could influence brain development and behavior. It may, for example, partly account for the differences in brain structure and behavior between identical twins, and could even affect thought processes by subtly influencing the changes in nerve cell connections that occur with experience.

“The full significance of this "genomic plasticity" is still not clear, but the authors suggest that it could influence brain development and behavior. It may, for example, partly account for the differences in brain structure and behavior between identical twins, and could even affect thought processes by subtly influencing the changes in nerve cell connections that occur with experience.”

==From Religion to the Singularity==

SoYouWantToMakeGodsI had loads of fun at the recent Singularity Summit 2011. I gave a talk to all those folks who think that technology will soon empower us to construct super-intelligent artificial intelligences, or perfect intelligence enhancing implants, or even cheat death. The title:  "So you want to make gods. Now why would that bother anybody?" in which I present some Singularity-tilted theology.

And while we are reaching across the Great Divide... Science and Religion Today interviewed me in a brief Q & A re: “Can altruism be addictive?” riffing off of the new volume Pathological Altruism, in which I have two articles.

For more on observation flaws built into human nature... see a fascinating story about "validity bias" where people routinely misjudge their own competence and procedures, even in the face of evidence. This especially applies to my longstanding call for neutral Predictions Registries. Read this and ponder how hard it is to be a mature person in this modern world.

KurzweilSingularityCoverAnd now, getting even more cosmic! All folks in or near the U.K. be sure and look into a unique symposium taking place at the British Interplanetary Society in London on 23rd November, dedicated to the philosophy of Olaf Stapledon. My peer and fellow “Killer B” - Stephen Baxter - will be delivering a very cogent paper.

== Interesting Developments ==

Ah, speaking of singularities. Ever get the feeling you were born too late to get the good stuff?

See 12 visions of the future of computing, biotechnology, energy, and more, from the editors of Technology Review comes TRSF, an 80-page anthology of original near-future science fiction stories.  A very worthy volume filled with unusual insights and optimism for the can-do spirit. (I’ll be in a future volume, but this one rocks!)

From sea-floor... Scientists have discovered a community of 4-inch amoebas living at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest known part of the world's oceans.

Is sub-sea mining (of metal-rich sulfide muds near old oceanic “smokers”) about to take off? How will it change things?

To space... A Rover’s Eye View: Watch this three minute time-lapse video of Opportunity’s thirteen mile trek across the desolate surface of Mars, from Victoria Crater to Endeavour Crater—a journey spanning three years.

The moon may be a harsh mistress, but Russian scientists say they want to establish a colony below the lunar surface. According to Russian space official Sergei Krikalyov, recently discovered volcanic tunnels could provide natural shelter for the first colonists.

== But At Least Art Thrives! ==

See this 2009 cartoon by Joel Pett that distills a point I'd been making for years. Everything we must do re Climate Change are things we ought to do anyway (TWODA). "Ruin the economy?" Who wants that! A strawman. Efficiency is next to godliness.  Use this argument. Pry open skulls... or we’ll get Nehemia Scudder!

Absolutely stunning Sapporo beer commercial is a fest for the eye.  Amazing.  Watch it in color! (Thanks Stefan.)

A cute little practical joke from the early days of computers.

A serious aside... A critical but neglected transparency law could be updated for the 21st century if a new congressional proposal succeeds. The  (S. 1732), introduced by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) on Oct. 18, would update the Privacy Act of 1974 . The Privacy Act governs what actions federal agencies must take when collecting personal information on American citizens and how agencies use and share it.

Artist John Powers writes a fascinating riff, comparing Star Trek to the American dream... and weaving in a number of my own observations about the underlying design of the 200 year American Experiment.

== Brief Political Stuff ==

Read this. Our civil war is no longer left-vs-right. It is about bewildered American pragmatists and a "side" that's gone mad. "Mike Lofgren recently retired from a lengthy career as an esteemed Capitol Hill republican staffer a respected, knowledgeable figure. Read  Lofgren wrote for Truth Out, published yesterday with this headline: “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult.” How I miss Goldwater & Buckley!

Here's the source.

See a map of which states are the most/least violent.  Even the first impressions are devastating to the big fib of “civility” in Red America. Now take into account that New York and California and Illinois have an excuse... dense cities and lots of immigrants and urban poor and drugs... And even so score way above average. New England does best of all.  So much for the moral superiority of Limbaugh-land.

Ever seen the maps for teen sex, teen pregnancy, infant mortality, divorce, domestic violence, and transmission of STDs?  Same story.  The preachy folk who claim to have a better handle on morality are, well, on average far less moral.  And their man Bush managed to make every measure of national health and middle class economics plummet during his reign. By all means, let’s heed their advice!
Interesting changes in the degree that the international uber-rich can “helvetian-hide” their booty from the tax-men.

Here’s a quotation from one of the world’s top technology pundits, Mark Anderson:

“For me, there is no more poignant example of the Bush 9.11 era, and the need to get beyond it now. Like two slides, I picture, first: an army of soldiers surrounding bin Laden in the mountains of Tora Bora, and then being ordered by Team Bush to wait until the locals can get there and participate, at which point the enemy has escaped.

“I compare that slide to the story of this year: after a year in secret investigation and preparation, Team Obama finds a likely target compound in Pakistan, orders in Seal Team Six via stealth choppers, uses overwhelming force, and shoots to kill. DNA samples are taken to confirm ID, and the body is dumped ignominiously in the ocean, with no propaganda pics for the enemy, and no burial process or site to rally round.” What a difference.  And yet, which man is called a “wimp”?

A vastly detailed and deeply disturbing article in Bloomberg about the Koch brothers. Seriously, read at least the first ten paragraphs or so.

Sorry, but if we’re to prevent Nehemia Scudder... (Heinlein called 2012 his year!) .. we are all gonna have to get more active.  And some of you must wake up.


== Oh, If Only... ==

Finally, one prays something like this will happen. From The Onion: Nation Finally Breaks Down and Begs its Smart People to Just Fix Everything!

Alas, look at history.  At the obstinate delusional stupidity that ran every previous civilization and keeps threatening ours.  Shall we bet on this?  Sigh.

132 comments:

Stefan Jones said...

Olaf Stapledon actually addressed the British Interplanetary Society back in 1948. His speech, "Interplanetary Man?", is published in Sam Moskowitz's collection of Stapledon stories and essays.

According to the BIS meeting notes, one of the folks in the audience was some dude called A.C. CLARKE.

Stapledon was an odd duck. He was heavily influenced by H.G. Wells, and accepted some of Well's odd notions, like humanity merging into a utopian overmind via scientific socialism. But OS added humility and doubt to the equation; he called himself a "pious agnostic." Star Maker features selfless utopias going way bad. (The "good guy" utopias have a policy very much like the Prime Directive . . . and like Kirk and Picard they weren't beyond clandestine meddling to save promising civilizations!)


'bunhyp': Rabbit leg prosthetic

Paul451 said...

The computer hardware hack reminded me of the legendary More Magic switch...

http://catb.org/jargon/html/magic-story.html

...which, after the usual hypertext drunkards walk, ended with the jokes:

Q. How can you recognise a computer technician with flat tire.
A. He's changing one tire at a time to see which one is flat.

Q. How can you recognise a computer technician who's run out of gas?
A. He's changing one tire at a time to see which one is flat.

Q. How can you tell it's your technician?
A. His only spare is also flat.

Jonathan said...

David, you say 'But anyone who rejects socialist intervention to help poverty-wracked children is not only evil but also now clearly shown to be batshit crazy. And wrong'. Remove the word socialist intervention and replace with charity and your libertarian side would be consistent and agree with this sentiment, as I do.

Anonymous said...

"But anyone who rejects socialist intervention to help poverty-wracked children is not only evil but also now clearly shown to be batshit crazy."

The question is not intervention on behalf of children, but who should intervene? How's that government bureaucracy working out for you?

Meanwhile, the same people who kidnap children from loving homes are persecuting those whom nature provided to care for children, and the child abuse industry makes billions every year off the suffering of children.

François Marcadé said...

You are the first person I ever saw making a "contrepèterie” in English (bottle in Front of Me, Frontal Lobotomy). I do not even know the word in English for that.

Meanwhile, I do not understand Anonymous, does he/she mean that because the bureaucracy in some states disregards laws that benefit the children under certain circumstances, those states or any government for that matter should be barred of passing any law that benefit them? I have very big difficulty to see how a charity or even a network of charities can do better than a government program to reach all the children in need, but of course I am a liberal and I voted Socialist most of my life.

sociotard said...

For halloween:
How to carve a pumpkin . . . with science!

Tacitus2 said...

David
In my opinion you are still playing fast and loose with those stats on Red/Blue markers of societal ills.
But I have rebutted with statistics, tried your patience with satire.
Within the bounds of a convivial family dinner setting I am out of options.
Sometimes you just let ol' Uncle Dave run on!
Tacitus

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

Francois, as best as I can figure, that is anonymous' logic, and while it's silly, it's something that gets heard a lot about government from the right.


The argument always proceeds as "Because government did [X] in anecdotal case [Y], government should never, ever do anything related to [Y], in any way, ever again".

Of course, that means I, as a liberal who's moderately critical of our military, could say something like "Because the US government decided against use of the F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger, one of the most cost effective and combat effective jet fighters in the history of air warfare (and probably the longest serving, after the Mig-21), and that was a bad decision, the USAF should be disbanded, completely, forever". Of course, if I did, conservatives would be all over me, and rightly so; it's a silly argument.


The USAF may have made what was arguably an asinine decision with the F-5, which nonetheless proved itself with an impeccable combat record in Vietnam (see Skoshi Tigers), and thrived on the export market with more nations than just about any other plane (again, probably save the enormously similar Mig-21), but the USAF has more than enough examples of GOOD decision making, and competent operation, in the long term, to override one bad decision

Corey said...

Also, on the subject of taking care of the environment being a win-win situation, that was largely the argument former Interface CEO Ray Anderson spent years making before his death a couple of months ago.

He may have been in it for the environment, but the case he always made to other businesses was a business case. His company saved hundreds of millions of dollars with its pushes for greater efficiency.

idiotgrrl said...

"See this cartoon that distills a point I'd been making for years. Everything we must do re Climate Change are things we ought to do anyway (TWODA). "Ruin the economy?" Who wants that! A strawman. Efficiency is next to godliness. Use this argument. Pry open skulls... or we’ll get Nehemia Scudder!"

This feeds into something I was musing on in the tub this morning. Your novel "Earth" shows a world where governments have reacted rationally to a world of declining resources and more people than said resources can sustain. I have seen this not-happening, and it's not-happened for the past 40 years. So I asked myself "What would it take for this to happen?"

The answer came immediately - a Crisis Era of 1929-1945 proportions such that people's belief that unlimited and ever-increasing consumption is possible and is our right will be so thoroughly dashed against the rocks of reality, that when the dust settles, the Recovery can begin on a realistic basis.

Then I realized you had actually provided such a Crisis. You said you did it because you needed something to be the sort of massive generational marker that leaves scars on everyone alive at the time. But you wrought better than you knew: it actually swept away the political "Baby needs his candy and we won't get elected unless we promise it to him" nonsense of today.

BTW - individuals, being smarter than the pundits, are actually taking such action privately, somewhat below the radar.

Corey said...

@idiotgrrl

The world is a mixed bag in this respect, I think.


Individual governments HAVE begun, in many places, to take very serious actions. The UK is buying up and making nature preserves out of absolutely grossly huge areas of land and ocean, the last half-century in the US is full of conservation success stories (the Gray Wolf, Bald Eagle, Black-Footed Ferret, American Bison, etc).

International agreements are starting to have more teeth, with a relatively recent agreement setting something like 10% of the world's land area aside for conservation (I'm away from my main computer, so I don't have specifics on hand).


The problem is that its inconsistent, being serious in some areas, but not in others. For instance, we still don't have any kind of serious climate agreement, despite ample climatological, ecological and paleontological evidence that climate change is going to be very bad (and is already starting to stress some species to the breaking point).



I'd like to think you're wrong, and that it won't take a major crisis for us to get serious, especially in climate, where the results lag behind any action taken by several decades. This has most certainly been the case in the past, but I'd like to think that at some point we can evolve beyond that failing, and I'd like to think that, to at least some extent, the emerging adults of my generation are at least a little wiser than our forebearers in this regard (we certainly are in many other ways).

I guess only time will tell.

rewinn said...

Funny thing about the specific link Anon 3:37 provides: it proves precisely the point opposite that intended.

Follow the link, and you'll see it's about how one government (SD) is not following the rules set by another government (USA). (It doesn't say anything at all about whether the result is better or worse for the citizens involved.)

Such conflicts are the inevitable result of our federal system, in which the states have some independence from the feds. Anyone who has ever written software understands that independently written modules can have conflicting code, but for statutory law, the situation is even worse since (A) natural language has an error-prone grammar; (B) everyone fights over the specifications even AFTER the code is written; (C) the only way to test is to put the code into operation.

Anon is actually making an argument for a single, unified government with a single, unified set of laws enforced by a single, unified organization. I don't agree, but she/he/it is entitled to their Big Government views.

Pangolin said...

I'm curious as hell how any of you processed that massive information dump in time to comment with any pretense of reason?

Personally, my head hurts. David, please slow down a tiny bit and give us mere mortals time to deal.

Stefan Jones said...

To be totally fair: There have been a lot government interventions in what might be called parenthood rights that were heavy-handed and bigoted. Like taking Native American kids from their families and putting them in boarding schools to knock the Indian out of 'em.

But putting all interventions in parenting styles aside, there are lots of things that could be done to remediate the damage done by impoverished childhoods:

Comprehensive medical coverage for pregnant women and infants. ALL of them, no excuses.

Comprehensive nutritional support for the same.

Getting the lead out. For cripes sake, this is a total no-brainer. Any politician or blowhard friend of prosperity who bitches about the cost of cleaning up lead in paint and soils should be invited to eat some and serve it to their kids to show us we shouldn't worry about it.

Cleaning up the air in cities. Specifically, soot and other particulates.

Literacy programs for parents, books-for-kids programs, full-day kindergarten programs.

'dinjusla': Brand name for a popular sauce for samosas. Mmmm, samosas.

Carl M. said...

Check this one out:
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/gary-johnson-gets-on-new-hampshire-ballot-20111028

A Republican deficit hawk who believes in man-made climate change -- and the only candidate running who has climed Mount Everest.

David Brin said...

Jonathan, I am a libertarian in the Smithian/Heinleinian sense. I believe all realms of life that are both adult and creative should be flat-out competitive.

Competition is the greatest creative force in the universe. It propels evolution and it created us and - when reified by vigorous, fair and transparently flat markets, it resulted in a cornucopia that uplifted the world.

Only then, in BEYOND THIS HORIZON, Robert Heinlein turns around (in describing his future prescriptive utopia) and says: " Of course food is free!"

In his world, satisfying the needs of children... and the BASIC needs of adults (food, rudimentary shelter and a chance to self-uplift)... are not matters to be left to "charity" or the patronizing whim of the well-off. That was the methodology of 6000 years of failed "civilizations before us.

These are matters of fundamental societal underpinning. The civilization that does not simply take care of such things is unworthy of the name "civilization."

Are you surprised that Robert Heinlein said that?

Here's the difference between "lefties" and "liberals." Lefties finger-wag statist solutions because (1) it is moral and (2) they have an underlying psychological need to meddle.

OTOH the fundamental driver of Adam-Smithian liberalism is that we (meaning the state that executes our consensus decisions) must see to it that all children get all the education, food and care they need .. because that is the way to maximize the number of skilled, knowing, savvy and ready competitors! Which should be the main goal of libertarians and followers of Hayek and Smith... and Heinlein.

Yes, liberals and lefties often want the same near-term things... health care etc... there underlying reasons are very different. (Mind you, many of today's self-styled "liberals" fail to make this rather prim distinction. Still this lies at the heart of much of what motivates them.)

THIS is the way a mature libertarianism would think. That maximizing creative competition is the goal and that (yes) the state plays a role in it. The state is a tool. It watched carefully, relentlessly fine-tuned, criticized and always, always replaced with private endeavor whenever possible. A hard task!

But spurning and hating the state is not helpful. In fact, it is exactly what the oligarchs - the true enemies of freedom Adam Smith despised - want you to do! (Think. Who finances Fox and all the "libertarian think tanks"?)

Simply having the agenda of relentless raging against the state is the current libertarian insanity, a monstrous randian sputum festival detached from any rationality or conception of long term goals. It is little-boy solipsism and an excuse to indulge in the drug high of self-righteous fury, hating the very nation that engendered more libertarians than any other.

KEY POINT: If any children are hungry or have had their potential as future competitors diminished by happenstance -- or even by their parents' foolish choices -- then it is not only a moral crime, it is proof of a civilization that is neither sane nor worthy of the name. A civilization that doesn't yet know how to maximize the creative competition of adults.

David Brin said...

---- followup ---
Anon said "Hows that government bureaucracy working out for you?"

Gah, the poison of pablum! Anon actually asked that? He actually typed those words? Without any sense of irony?

Answer: IT IS WORKING OUT GREAT! Literacy has soared from 2% to 98%. Actual caloric starvation in America is nonexistent, for the first time in the entire history of the human race. Public roads enable millions to travel to where the jobs are. Most of the poisons are out of the air and out of the food. Government funded science is rocketing us forward.

These things are inadequate - especially education - but only by the elevated standards of a civilization in which government did its earlier job!

We want education to be better than just raising litracy. Today, we have "failed" because we want all the people who used to be destined to dig ditches to score well on international college entrance exams. Okay fine, that much higher ambition is glorious. And if that's the goal, then maybe we need to move on to another level.

Maybe more competition in education? Sure! Force the overblown and turgid teachers' unions to back off and let teachers compete in a market place? SURE! I am a libertarian in such matters.

But your lack of historical perspective - of any sense of gratitude for how far we've come - is, as Darth might say, disturbing.

Taran said...

To Tacitus2:

This isn't your blog, and thus it isn't David's responsibility to post your statistics for you if you disagree with the ones he cites. Knuckle up and post your superior statistics anyway, if you think they're worth it. Otherwise, why are you commenting?

It turns out that in this case exact statistics don't actually matter (even though most studies I've seen do have similar results). You would have to be crazy to insist that abstinence-only education--embraced here in the "Heartland"--works in the Age of Media. Similarly, lack of gun control and effective lack of alcohol distribution control equals more guns in the hands of more drunk kids and adults. These correlate to violence in southern states.

Proximity to the Mexican border is probably not confounding to the obvious assumption (but not proof, because proof is just so hard to get in statistics) of bidirectional causation, because it's hailed as part of the culture here. You don't need a ridiculously complex model (the only thing that will correct for the multivariate biases within a large regional population) to figure out that we just don't care that much about pregnancy and violence here.

David presents an idea of morality that is, I think, a good one, but that other people disagree with. I would argue that problems here in the South have to do with a backlash against the stringent ideals of a certain religious presence here.

How blasphemous to say that a church wouldn't know morality if it beaned them in the head. Upon hearing a quotation of Leviticus used in an actual argument? I guess I'm blasphemous.

LarryHart said...

From the Onion article Dr Brin linked to:

...
Citizens across the nation also promised to stay completely out of the way while those people who actually have some idea what they're doing roll up their sleeves and get down to the bottom of all this. In addition, the competent have been issued assurances they will not be hindered by irrelevant, totally uninformed opinions while they are getting things done.
"You won't hear a single word out of us, we swear," said Chicago real-estate broker Paul Linder, mentioning that smart people can have all the time and resources they need to make the necessary repairs to society. "We're going to keep our attention where it's best suited by watching some T.V., surfing the Internet, or maybe trying to mend that fence of mine that's been falling down for so long. That kind of thing is really more our speed."
"Although, actually, if you guys could help out with the fence, that would be great," Linder added.


The sad thing is that the Randroid faction of the right actually believe wholeheartedly in this scenario, but they see the oligarchs as the good guys, the ones for whom everyone else should get out of the way.

LarryHart said...

soc (in the previous post):

The other thing is whether an omnipotent God would have "masculine" qualities like aggression or even have the desire to dominate, since an omnipotent God is dominant to begin with.


It's a great thought experiment to consider what personal qualities would exhibit themselves in an omnicient, omnipotent being who has always existed. But I think one must be careful about certainty in such matters. Of course, God wouldn't have required certain traits in order to evolve into His present state, but that doesn't necessarily mean He would be devoid of those traits.

It's possible that evolution mimics God, rather than the other way around. That the traits which survive the crucible of evolution are the Godliest ones.


Lacking any insecurities, there would be little reason to be brutish or cruel. In fact, God may have more "feminine" qualities like nurturer then "masculine" ones.


In the context presented by Dave Sim of "Cerebus" fame (or "fame", I suppose), oh BOY have you opened a can of worms. He definitely sees God as having masculine traits, and the notion that it may be otherwise is (to Dave) the root of all evil. He sees earthly feminism as mimicking that feminie earth spirit (YHWH, also perhaps Satan) believing herself to be the equal of God.


You know how a few posts ago there was a discussion about how men are good at building civilization, but it is women who thrive in it? That the more feminized our society becomes the more civilized and gentle it gets?

Well, if God is eternal, and masculine qualities, shaped by evolution, were never needed to bring God to Her/His present state of comfort and omnipotence. Or, even if they were, they have since fallen away from disuse, then a feminine God makes sense.

ps. I noticed that I'm equating 'feminize' with 'civilize' and that that opens up a whole other can of worms, but I trust most people get what I'm driving at. :)


Yes, but again, in the world of Dave Sim, you've opened the biggest of ALL cans of worms. To Dave, civilization has all become feminized to its detriment. Sometimes, he portrays Islamic governments such as Saudi Arabia as bravely standing against this feminizing trend--other times, he complains that even uber-Islamic society is too feminist.

I kid you not.

David Brin said...

LarryHart, good twist on how the libertarians are elitists without any sense of history.

Taran I deeply respect Tacitus. But we have disagreed over whether his statistics amount to a hill of beans... or enough to make me back down from my (admittedly) very aggressive dare to the angry culture warriors in Red America.

Let me be plain. Were I attacking those salt-of-the-Earth folk do-novo, out of the blue, I would face proper scrutiny for (1) being a bigoted asshole and (2) facing a steep burden of proof.

But neither applies to me. Because I am simply DISPROVING an aggressive, full-frontal, bellowing assault arising FROM Red America - aimed at urbanites, professionals, government, and every knowledge caste. The campaign is huge, relentless and overbearing that "we are more moral, we know better ways of living, parenting, teaching that will result in smarter, wiser, and more moral kids.!"

There is no mistaking this campaign as anything other than intentional, bilious, hateful and utterly wrong. And hence, my citing these data is a manifestation of REFUTATION of unsupportable assertions. As such, I am not subject to the rules of absolute proof that my foes are wrong all the time. It is adequate that I show they are wrong most of the time. Nearly ALL the time in nearly all ways.

Tacitus has utterly failed to know me down from that perch. Hence I will continue as I have. Aggressive assaults upon the Enlightenment deserve what they earn.

David Brin said...

Guys any comments on this magic trick? Oh, where's Randi!
http://pesn.com/2011/10/28/9501940_1_MW_E-Cat_Test_Successful/

http://pesn.com/2011/10/28/9501940_1_
MW_E-Cat_Test_Successful/

Paul451 said...

US army working on Terminator. To test clothes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=mclbVTIYG8E

It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever.

Rob said...

David,

Today we have made a theoretically endless COP making 470 kilowatt hour per hour of completely free energy, free of fuel.

I fall back on my father's advice: If it sounds too good to be true, then it is. The Standard Model might be flawed, but I refuse to accept that it's so flawed that E=mc^2 is right out. Energy came out, so matter was converted. I could have my orders of magnitude wrong, but they should be measuring a mass conversion of something between 4 and 40 milligrams per second, no?

Paul451 said...

Re: Rossi's e-cat magic free energy machine

All,
Cold Fusion's child, Low-Energy-Nuclear-Reactions. Rossi claims to have mixed nickel with his secret sauce catalyst to allow hydrogen-nickel fusion and commercially useful excess heat. He's built a set of 100 units in a shipping container, intended to produce 1MW, and claims to have sold at least one such system, possible several.

David,
General feeling amongst skeptics is that Rossi's playing with a quirk of thermocouples and steam that gives an exaggerated temperature reading.

The solution is to stop measuring proxies (flow rates plus momentary temperatures) and simply measure the long-term temperature change in a bulk material, like a tank of water. They've been asking, demanding, begging for that since January. But each demonstration seems to carefully avoid such a test, even as the tests become more elaborate and Rossi make grander claims.

Rossi's also an arrogant, paranoid, shouty man, who is convinced that his critics are part of a conspiracy (a war) against him. He's doing everything he can to look like a fraud and a loon.

(I've said elsewhere, if e-cat turns out to be real, Rossi needs to be shot in the dick to serve as a lesson to others, "Don't piss people around.")

(naterci: (the), league of Italian free energy skeptics.)

Rob said...

So I guess the thing to do is offer him cash for his gizmo, maybe 3 MW of it, and perform the test independently. (CERN could say, "We'll give you a cool 200,000 euros for a test unit," for example.)

If he won't do that, then he's got to prove he isn't a charlatan.

Pangolin said...

If E-cat is real and functional the first person to confirm it should promptly put a bullet through the skull of it's inventor, destroy the machine, blueprints, and offices of said man and then suicide.

The human race is simply not prepared to deal with a Mr. Fusion device. Imagine fleets of fishing vessels unrestrained by the need to dock and refuel; they would strip the oceans bare. Imagine enough spare heat energy to dome the arctic tundra and grow avocados under lights; the methane release from the permafrost would guarantee our extinction. Imagine (and I shudder) Winnebagos and yachts completely free of fuel restrictions roaming the world's highways, rivers, lakes and oceans.

Thank Dog that man and all his ilk are frauds. He's a very competent fraud but a fraud nonetheless.

Tacitus2 said...

Taran

You are coming in late. We had a bit of an exchange two threads back on this. David and I disagree not on the statistics but on the significance of them. I feel it is facile to look at rates of this and that from say, Alabama, and say this means that the Red/Republican/Conservative worldview is a crock.
The uncomfortable reality is that poor people especially poor minorities tend to have heartbreaking rates of various types of social dysfunction. These same groups overwhelmingly vote Democratic/Blue/Liberal. You can find the same pattern in Illinois as in Dixie.

But a few more thoughts. Love the handle Taran....I am a big Lloyd Alexander fan. And I respect the viewpoint of people "on the ground". I sometimes chide a bit, as my work gets me elbow deep in the problems of social dysfunction..some of our other respected members of this political/literary salon and drinking society have careers in which they encounter the poor on a less regular basis.

If I decline to fire up the stat machine again it is for a reason. I am a guest here. Never mind that all of us guests are uninvited, and are free to leave in a huff or mumble in the corner as suits us. I strive for politeness even when I am shaking my head and smiling.

Ah, stats. I would think a ward by ward analysis of America would be interesting...I bet I could find a few spots that voted Bright Red and had zero teen pregnancies! Oh, you pesky folks would probably point out that Boca Raton Fla is a retirement villa, that there are no teens, and that anyone contrating an std would likely get more of a nod of respect than a moralizing lecture!

Just keep Tacitus and Uncle Dave at opposite ends of the table and don't let either of them near the turkey carving knife and we will have a merry feast.

Tacitus

sociotard said...

Regarding the E-Cat cold fusion device: I chuckled when I saw that he was testing his machine in an Italian city named "Bologna"

Stefan Jones said...

What is E-cat works, but it turns out that its operation requires a steady supply of innocent live baby kittens?

("Where do you think I got the name? Now unplug that feed unit and fill the hopper, we have a demo this afternoon!")

Sorry, I've had MUCH too much sugar today.


'ented': When your TED lecture is filmed.

David Brin said...

Tacitus is right that the poor tend to vote democratic. So why is the average educational and IQ level falling among Republicans, to much lowe r averages?

Because nearly all the smart people have been driven out of the GOP.

soc said...

LarryHart,

It's possible that evolution mimics God, rather than the other way around. That the traits which survive the crucible of evolution are the Godliest ones.

Good point! I hadn't thought of that.

Goes back to the problem of evil argument. If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and good then there should be no evil in the world. Turns out there is, therefore one (or more) of those three attributes have to go.

(Notice how masculinity is once again getting it rough, this time being openly compared to evil!)

There seems to be a feminine God = good, masculine God = bad, thing going on here. Now, this simplistic dichotomy is plainly idiotic. One needs the other and both are too complex to be labelled completely good or bad. "Masculinity" is needed to build a world in which "femininity" thrives. This "feminine" world is what we call civilization. But this idea that "masculinity" is needed is due to the way the world is "designed." It could be the case that an omnipotent God deliberately built the world this way, bringing into question His goodness. Or, we could have a non-omnipotent Goddess who had no reason to develop a masculine side. The more I think about it, the more the former seems compelling, which I also find terrifying.

David Sims sounds like someone who equates Patriarchy with Civilization. Perhaps similar to the way I have done with feminism/civilization. It certainly highlights the radically different way we understand the concept of civilization.

David Brin said...

"Goes back to the problem of evil argument. If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and good then there should be no evil in the world. Turns out there is, therefore one (or more) of those three attributes have to go."

Sorry! Always look for incomplete logic. To those three you must add:
"...and that his paramount concern is individual humans, or some larger set of goals."

Indeed, the ONLY excuse that can be made for Him, that allows Him to be omnipotent, omniscient and loving... is if the thing He loves is larger than any one person, or any one generation... but to the species, or something even bigger.

In that case, then our suffering may be like the tempering of metal toward creating an improved tool. Harsh! But if that was why we were made, and if the outcome is a good one, then I can see it. It means my loyalty is not owed to Him personally, though I may give shared fealty to the project.

rewinn said...

re e-cat:

OBSERVATIONS:
* it makes no sense for an unnamed investor to run a public test
* estimated cost of $2000 per kilowatt hour is the order-of-magnitude price of today's fission reactors
* scalable, fuel-free, waste-free nukes would be ideal for ship propulsion and serving our 500+military sites around the world
* the Pentagon has more money than any investor.

CONCLUSION:

Rossi is either a total pacifist or a total scammer.

Taran said...

Tacitus2,

Yeah, I really like Lloyd Alexander too! I should, since my parents did...and named me after the main character.

David,

I respect your goals, though you are one man and a few allies in the public eye up against a well-oiled army.
I have a problem when people try to describe God. As long as he is considered omniscient, omnipotent and ineffable, it seems the epitome of hubris to try to understand "Him." I feel like we don't need to try beyond acknowledging the progress of history.

In respect to the DNA information, I have worried that the apparent focus on Nature in the last two decades has set back the cause of social improvements to Nurture. Maybe a more clear linkage between the two will help?
In general, people seem to be either way too hands-off or way too hands-on with their children these days. I don't know if that's true for sure though, just personal experience.

Robert said...

There's one thing people sometimes forget. God is everywhere and everything. Thus we are living in and on God. The very universe itself is God. You could think of God as akin to a swan, with God's young (us) nestled in its wings as it swims along in the multiverse. We're protected from some stuff... but not everything.

sociotard said...

So, Dr. Brin, do you suggest that Libya declare war on Switzerland, or was that just Tunisia (I can't remember now).

I was just musing over the possibility today, and it occured to me that we have no way of knowing if Switzerland was the secretive banking haven of choice for the despot. There are, after all, so many of them, and really no reason to just choose one. They couldn't very well declare war on all of them.

soc said...

Indeed, the ONLY excuse that can be made for Him, that allows Him to be omnipotent, omniscient and loving... is if the thing He loves is larger than any one person, or any one generation... but to the species, or something even bigger.

In that case, then our suffering may be like the tempering of metal toward creating an improved tool. Harsh! But if that was why we were made, and if the outcome is a good one, then I can see it. It means my loyalty is not owed to Him personally, though I may give shared fealty to the project.


I don't know...sounds like the "for the greater good" excuse. Imagine making a living thing, giving it the capacity to suffer then putting it into a world where it is virtually guaranteed to suffer. If God is so damned smart, why not come up with a less cruel way of achieving whatever ends He's after?

It's difficult to look at an animal experience extreme pain in the jungle as some predator rips its' guts out while it's still alive and then to think that this is the only way it can be. Sounds like the work of a sadist.

David Brin said...

Sociotard - I intend to comment on the helvetian aspects of the Libya situation.

Soc Re the cruelty of life. The suffering of a cell may seem tragic - to a cell - even if it helps the larger organism to grow and flourish. I didn't say I LIKED a creator who let billions of us suffer in the process of forging something that's collectively beautiful or effective. WHat I said was that I UNDERSTAND such a prioritization. It is consistent with the Genesis theology I describe in my Singularity talk (which I assume you've seen?)

I would not presume to call such a creator cruel or insane - which most other scenarios and explanations, including those of CS Lewis and most theologians, force one to conclude. If he cares about the final outcome of "us" then I can see him not prioritizing "me" very highly.

On the other hand, that liberates me from any need to be personally devoted to him. If His goal for "us" is similar to my goal for "us" then we are allies and I will help as best I can.

I am not behooved to like him.

Ever see TEMPLE GRANDIN? She was appalled by the way most animals die in nature. Her slaughterhouses make it a milder death and her reasoning, in the film, is very moving.

And, by that logic, lamb and veal are evil! Because the animal should get a decent and comfortable life span in exchange for its flesh.

Chicken? Geez, by now they are just protein factories with feathers.

I do hope we get tissue culture meat soon.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Tacitus is right that the poor tend to vote democratic.


Is he really? I'm sure he's right that poor BLACKS (and other dispossessed minorities) tend to vote Democratic, but do poor southern WHITES also skew Dem? Seems to me that if this were true, there would be no red states at all.

Let's be careful about cause and effect here. People who feel like second-class citizens in their own country are going to vote Democratic (if they vote at all) because the Republican Party is the party of the winners. People who feel like second-class citizens will also likely skew toward being poor. But it's not the poor-ness that sends one toward the Democratic party, it's the disposessed-ness.

All of this may be only slightly germane to the point of contention. Tacitus claims you can't conclude from red-state statitstics that conservatism has a worse moral record because the individuals who make those statistics bad vote Democratic. So the question becomes--what's more relevant here at determining whose values (conservatives or liberals) are being properly judged by the stats, the values the state is governed by, or the values of the individual voters? At 2:30am, I'm not thinking straight enough to ANSWER this question, but thought it's worth stating in black and white.


So why is the average educational and IQ level falling among Republicans, to much lowe r averages?

Because nearly all the smart people have been driven out of the GOP.


"A lot of smart people came out of the Republican Party. In fact, most of them did!"

Carl M. said...

I doubt there is as much money in the Swiss banks as you think. Khadafi was running a communist country without communist standards of living. This is an extremely expensive pasttime. America's Cup racing is redneck fun by comparison.

rewinn said...

Late for Halloween: Support Research Into Zombies

actually, the whole Rockethub.com site looks interesting: it's basically Kickstarter for science!

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart

well said. Another way to look at is whether bad outcomes are due to bad personal decisions or to bad governmental policies. (certainly both, although I suspect conservatives put more emphasis on the first and liberal have more faith in goverment to influence things).
Either case can be made. In fact you could argue that the tragic state of family life in black America could be due to discrimination in Alabama and paternalism in Chicago, with a big dollop of local corruption to boot.
But irregardless of melanin content, personal decisions matter.
Getting a C in algebra is not good. Having a baby at 16 is exponentially worse.

You know me, I am actually not critical of Obama in a global sense. Foreign policy he's doing...ok. Domestically I realize he has constraints, and is probably doing the best he can with limited experience.

But damn it, he has the perfect opportunity for the bully pulpit. His own biography argues that children from broken families can succeed. His own intact family is evidence that the absent father syndrome is not inevitable.

One reason I gave him qualified support early (did vote for him in the critical WI primary) was that I hoped he could speak to these issues. Whover comes next will have less authority.

Tacitus

Stefan Jones said...

Cool article in the paper yesterday; sugar-coating disaster preparedness lectures with zombie-apocalypse fun!

Zombie Squad combines fascination for the undead with philanthropic mission

'darallo': Cigarette that gets around FDA labeling requirements by substituting 1/2 tobacco with asbestos.

sociotard said...

This article says that very few Anons are interested in persuing this, particularly in Mexico. It is starting to look as if this is all bluster.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/10/opcartel/

Unknown said...

Because nearly all the smart people have been driven out of the GOP.


"A lot of smart people came out of the Republican Party. In fact, most of them did!"




I read an article a while back describing the Republican Party's sudden trend to nuttiness:

Evaporative Cooling: As the more sane members of the GOP jump ship, the party is left with a greater proportion of crazies, and therefore the mean temperament of the party is also drawn towards the insane end.

David Brin said...

Larryhart Asked: "So the question becomes--what's more relevant here at determining whose values (conservatives or liberals) are being properly judged by the stats, the values the state is governed by, or the values of the individual voters?"

Sorry, I don't grok the distinction. The majority of individual voters in these states vote to be governed by red-rules, then brag incessantly that those rules are better at achieving results that can easily be measured by statistics... yet they refuse to pay any attention to the stats.

Their poor do worse than urban poor. Their middle classes do far worse than urban middle classes. Compare apples to apples, even Red-Delicious apples to Red-Delicious apples! When they lose under EVERY single comparison, my point is established.

What point? Not that they are inferior people. But that the should shut the F** up about claiming to be better and more moral and wiser than me! Until they do, then my stats are perfectly good enough to justify calling them imbecilic assholes.

Carl said "Khaddafi was running a communist country..."

WHaaaaa? A classic kleptocratic, clan-based, family and crony oligarchy... and you call that "communist"?

Oh, and estimates of theft rise as high as $200 BILLION.

Unknown: "Evaporative Cooling: As the more sane members of the GOP jump ship, the party is left with a greater proportion of crazies, and therefore the mean temperament of the party is also drawn towards the insane end."

Hm... but shouldn't it be raining sane conservatives elsewhere?

What I'm observing is that they are being driven out of active participation in the party... but Fox keeps them circling in orbit - away from the heat - wincing and cringing at the nutty flames - but unable to pull away, heeding endless Ailes-rationalizations that "the democrats are even worse."

Tony Fisk said...

Quick, is there a sane conservative whose surname rhymes with Oort or even Kuiper? (Cooper?)

coluban: A deodoriser formulated for brassica-like whiffs (ie cabbage). Cheaper than fixing drains.

Tony Fisk said...

In the 'cool' department:

The intention isn't to grapple that fleeing Boskonian battle-cruiser, or retrieve wayward Federation shuttles, but
NASA is funding a study into developing 'tractor' beams

Anonymous said...

Have you looked at http://predictionbook.com/
I know its not quite what you mean by a predictions registry but its close.

Robert said...

WHaaaaa? A classic kleptocratic, clan-based, family and crony oligarchy... and you call that "communist"?

Like North Korea or Romania or Cuba? That's what they turn into, David. And then there's the French Revolution and the Bonapartes. One of the strongest arguments against the Left is that the Revolution gives you back the Old Lords - quicker, nastier, and deadlier than any other historical process.

Hm... but shouldn't it be raining sane conservatives elsewhere?

Who says it isn't? Where did the huge Independent bloc come from, and why does it keep growing? How did Kerry even come close to winning - and he did come close. Part of the problem is that conservative defectors are declared to be liberals (excuse me, Communist Nazi Arab Terrorists) by the Foxmachine the moment they raise their heads. There is a great deal of effort going into making sure that sane conservatives are not noticed.

And please remember - the Democrats haven't really gotten better; the Republicans have just gotten much, much worse.


Bob Pfeiffer.

David Brin said...

Robert said: "One of the strongest arguments against the Left is that the Revolution gives you back the Old Lords - quicker, nastier, and deadlier than any other historical process."

Look, I agree that the Soviet "nomenklatura" caste simply recreated the czarist oligarchy, thus illustrating my contention that human nature is an adamant bitch and only the enlightenment ever kept its failure modes at bay.

But I won't go as far as Robert. That's just a nostrum. An assertion.

In fact, the Chinese communists have about a 50% meritocracy going, in the top layers. That's the fraction of self-made men in the uppermost ranks. Moreover it is simply untrue that the French Revolution and Russian revolution left the people no better off.

"And then there's the French Revolution and the Bonapartes."

Simplistic. In fact, when it came to French society, Bonaparte considered himself to be a vigorous protector of the revolution. Elections were held regularly and local democracy vigorously stimulated. Both the landed peasantry and the bourgeoisie skyrocketed under Napolean and no one ever dared to try to repress them again. Likewise, wherever the French ruled for more than a couple of years (except hyper conservative Spain) all forms of serfdom and tenant oppression vanished and towns held elections by male franchise.

Oh, he went and spoiled it all with raging ego. He could have made a deal with the Czar to divide Turkey, in exchange for releasing the Poles and freeing the Greeks. A win-win (for everybody but the Turks.) In THAT parallel world we all speak French! (Sacre Bleu!)

Yes, the dems are still problematic. I keep finger-wagging for them to reclaim Adam Smith. But who listes to me? In any event, they are the most undisciplined pack of "cats" imaginable. Can't be herded. Hence, hardly a threat to freedom.

sociotard said...

Maybe our policing agencies are getting too good to let those 10,000 McVeighs through?

Georgia men charged with plotting to make ricin

Drupal Developers said...

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Corey said...

Trying to heard cats is a pretty good analogy for trying to get the Democrats to actually form any kind of unified movement on anything.

My Australian and British friends constantly ask me questions in the form of "Why do Democrats allow Republicans to do X? Why don't they just do Y?". Even my conservative British friend thinks the right is crazy here, and doesn't understand why we basically allow them to get away with running this country off cliff after cliff.


It's not always easy to convey the idea that the present GOP may be more or less crazy, its moderate side long kicked out (Bob Inglis?) or forced to conform to the far right(Snowe/Collins), but that they're also extremely cohesive and effective, while the Democrats, in the best of times, are a loose coalition of roughly like-minded people, who sometimes agree, and can occasionally get a vote with some of their party to show it.

LarryHart said...

Corey:

It's not always easy to convey the idea that the present GOP may be more or less crazy, its moderate side long kicked out (Bob Inglis?) or forced to conform to the far right(Snowe/Collins), but that they're also extremely cohesive and effective, while the Democrats, in the best of times, are a loose coalition of roughly like-minded people, who sometimes agree, and can occasionally get a vote with some of their party to show it.


Can anyone even imagine the fillibuster as used by Mitch McConnell surviving its first challenge the next time there's a Republican president and a Republican Senate? It will be gone on day 2. And FOX News will spend a lot of air time talking about how the slimy Democrats tried to subvert the democratic process and hold the Senate hostage to their liberal agenda, blah blah blah.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

And please remember - the Democrats haven't really gotten better; the Republicans have just gotten much, much worse.


Kind of the opposite dynamic of "A rising tide lifts all boats."

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

Larryhart, I hear you.

The irony is that I wouldn't want the liberals to be any other way in politics.

The right is so unified a force because they've replaced reason with religious zealotry. No matter what the party says, one has to go along with it, otherwise one is no longer welcome in the movement, and is instantly branded an "evil communist". Skepticism and independent thinking/judgement are just absolutely forbidden.


Not that you don't already know all this, but the point is that the GOP has quite literally sold their souls for political success, and even if it means never being as powerful as force as them, I wouldn't want liberals to become the same kind of lock-step group, because then we'd lose the very thing that makes us liberals. Some on the left have done this, Brin's so-called "lefty flakes" (as good a description as any). Moveon.org, Credo (what a strange organization) and similar organizations may be powerful, but they're generally not very reasonable.


I remember Bob Inglis' fall from conservative favor. The man had a 94% from the American Conservative Union; I wouldn't even go so far as to call him a moderate in the first place. He was, however, a pragmatist. His sin against the right? He dared to say that as experts, climate scientists probably knew what they were talking about, and as a non-expert, he had no grounds to contradict them, and would accept their judgement. In his own words, on the consensus, he said something to the effect of "If 99 doctors all tell you your kid is sick and needs treatment, and one doctor tells you he's fine, who are you going to listen to?".

That's it; that basically lost him the election to a Tea Partier (the well-known and abundantly crazy Jim DeMint). Right around that time, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, the two beacons of pragmatic moderation in the GOP, instantaneously did a 180 on all their moderation, and became lock-step Republicans, and the positions represented by their voting records transformed literally overnight.

Robert said...

Taking a break from politics for a moment, here's an interesting article on Viking Sunstones which were believed to be used in navigation under cloudy skies. Researchers going from the opposite direction of traditional beliefs (of light polarization) were able to get sunstones to reveal the presence of the sun with a 95% accuracy. By using secondary readings, the error rate could be reduced to 1%.

While sunstone navigation has not been proven archeologically, a sunstone was found on a Spanish treasure ship. The theory is that due to the magnetization of cannon which could throw off compasses, the Spanish also used Sunstones on occasion.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Corey:

I remember Bob Inglis' fall from conservative favor. The man had a 94% from the American Conservative Union; I wouldn't even go so far as to call him a moderate in the first place. He was, however, a pragmatist. His sin against the right? He dared to say that as experts, climate scientists probably knew what they were talking about, and as a non-expert, he had no grounds to contradict them, and would accept their judgement. In his own words, on the consensus, he said something to the effect of "If 99 doctors all tell you your kid is sick and needs treatment, and one doctor tells you he's fine, who are you going to listen to?".

That's it; that basically lost him the election to a Tea Partier (the well-known and abundantly crazy Jim DeMint).


The GOP dynamic has become "voting off the island". And even if everyone left in the party is 99% pure, they KEEP voting the lower rung off, until those that are left are 99.9% pure, and then 99.99%, etc. No one is safe. Reagan would be laughed out of the party today.

"Voting off the island" is appropriate, because I remember noticing a sea-change in entertainment values back around Y2K, one which made me uneasy at the time. As you may recall, in 1999, television was absolutely dominated by the game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" By 2000, or 2001 at the latest, "Millionaire" was old hat, and the new favorite game show was "The Weakest Link", which worked on essentially the same model as the new favorite reality show "Survivor".

Now, when you watched "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?", you were identifying with the contestent and watching for someone to WIN.

When you watch "The Weakest Link" or "Survivor" or any of the dozens of shows since following those models ("American Idol", "Dancing With The Stars", etc), you're watching for someone to LOSE. The winner is simply the one left standing after all the main action--LOSING--has taken place.

It may be a subtle difference, but when the country went from fascination with "Millionaire" to fascination with the "vote off the island" shows, it signalled a darkening of attitude. Instead of seeing the constestant as one of US, someone to root for, we began seeing the contestants as THEM, someone to take glee in bringing them down.

I noticed this all back when it was happening, and it seemed to be an ill wind blowing, although it has doubtless boded well for the Republican Party.

sociotard said...

When my wife makes me watch a "vote them off" show with her, I usually identify with one of the contestants and root for them.

Stefan Jones said...

Those "reality" TV shows are awful. They are simultaneously:

A) A terrible distraction from real issues. Networks flog them because they are cheap and popular; real, in-depth news reporting or (say) science coverage can't compete.

B) A horrible example of how the world really works, and how people relate to each other. They portray a zero-sum game that favors shnooks and bastards.

Yeah, yeah, there are some shows, like Amazing Race, that differ from this formula.

But the overall message that "reality" shows and talent shows deliver is profoundly vile and harmful.

Jacob said...

Please the way people work. They more they see a behavior, the more likely they are to do it. I'd happily ban them if given the option. There are better ways to entertain.

David Brin said...

Fully 21.5 percent of Mississippi residents are on food stamps. After Mississippi, the states with the highest levels of food-stamp use are New Mexico (20.7 percent), Oregon (20.6), Tennessee (20.2), and Louisiana (19.9).

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/more-one-five-mississippians-food-stamps-155341433.html

Yes... but OREGON?

Corey said...

Oregon is a funny case in that the population is almost totally focused in a single, very localized area.


Literally 1/2-2/3 of Oregon's population of 3 million lives in the Portland metro area (about 500,000 in Portland proper).

That means that small-scale economic factors or even failings in very localized government could have very serious impact.


Charlotte is about the size of Portland (about half a million in the official city, and 2 million in the greater area), and while NC as a whole isn't doing especially bad, Charlotte got hit very hard by the crash, because the entire source of the city's past several years of economic growth has been the banking industry, the very foundation of the city.


If Charlotte were most of NC, our state would look TERRIBLE right now, and GREAT only a few years ago, both because of the big fluctuations you see over smaller, more interconnected groups of people contained in small areas.


It's just a thought, anyways.

Corey said...

@Larryhart

You know, when I left the GOP as I got older, it didn't play out as "the GOP seems to be wrong on X, Y, and Z, therefore I'm not going to stay with them anymore".


Late in high school, I began seriously pursuing hard science, continuing into college, and what was just as revealing as learning about all these facts about the natural world, about biodiversity, climate, physics, evolution, was the fact that my entire party not only considered the entire thing to be an unholy lie, but considered every scientist, the people who's work I had begun to study and admire, was nothing but a big work of evil fraud.

These sentiments, of course, grew exponentially over a very short period of time, coinciding with me diving headlong into science enthusiastically. Here was my own political party, suddenly coming out and saying that everything my life was revolving around was nothing but a big fraud.


Quite frankly, it wasn't long before I simply didn't feel welcome in the GOP any longer, and that's why I stopped even trying to identify as a Republican. I think the lost GOP candidate I voted for was NH's Jeb Bradley, yet another long-gone moderate.

Since then, those sentiments have grown exponentially still, moving from the far-out fringes of small, isolated evangelical groups to mainstream GOP thinking.


I guess scientists were a little bit special on this island: we were voted off collectively, in one fel swoop.

LarryHart said...

Corey...I sympathize in that while I never self-identified as a Republican, I was fairly conservative among my college peers in the 1980s, and contrary to the usual pattern, I got more LIBERAL as I aged.

As to authoritarians vs scientists, remember the original "V" miniseries (not that awful remake of recent vintage which was an unsubtle-as-a-brick screed against the Obama administration)? The Visitors come to earth bearing miracles and ingratiate themselves into a leadership position on Earth? And one of the first things they do is sow suspicion among the human populace against...scientists.

It's amazing how transparent these tactics are, how old a playbook they're working from. And yet-- amazingly in a bad way--the tactics still work.

sociotard said...

Holy resilience Batman!

Will Japan build a backup Tokyo?

(In all seriousness, there are more pragmatic ways to approach that problem, but geez, way to think big!)

Stefan Jones said...

I wish we (the USA) would commit to a bunch of resilience projects. Water collection and distribution systems, electrical distribution systems, the whole works (literally). Make 'em tougher, smarter, and easier to replace and repair.

Start by building spares for every power transformer in the country . . . built in the USA, every part of them. Hold drills to swap them in in the advent of an EMP or solar flare.

Paul451 said...

Those one percenters are everywhere!

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21117-the-rich-club-that-rules-your-brain.html

Re: Reality TV.
The reason people watch reality TV is the same reason why soap-operas are so addictive, and why "celebrities" exist at all - we have evolved to be hyper-aware of people gaining or losing large amounts of social capital quickly. Once they were only in your extended family and surrounding tribe, now they're in people magazine and on The Island. If you aren't drawn to reality TV, you are not a socially normal human.

ahem

(yeniumst: Jewish festival of bacon.)

Paul451 said...

Oh, and Anonymous has either splintered or back-pedalled furiously over the Zetas kidnapping counter-threat.

guthrie said...

Woo hoo, confirmation that I am not socially normal!
Hang on, that means that half my friends aren't either. Maybe that statement is a little wrong?

Abilard said...

LarryHart said (a while back):

It's a great thought experiment to consider what personal qualities would exhibit themselves in an omniscient, omnipotent being who has always existed.

Should not such a god concept collapse from theism into deism quite quickly? Omniscience would include self-knowledge and knowledge of the future. Such a being could not react emotionally or be surprised. It could not react at all, as time would not exist for it (complete knowledge and complete presence in all moments). Rather than fuss and storm on Mt. Sinai, such an entity would be indistinguishable from gravity. It would just be.

Omniscience, though, is a slippery concept. Knowledge is a model of reality while omniscience would BE reality and therefore not be "knowledge" at all.

Ipso facto, the god defined by most mainstream monotheisms conflicts with the dogma of same (IMHO).

Corey said:

You know, when I left the GOP as I got older...

Join the club, though for me it was more of an X, Y, Z affair (in 1992 the culture war was broader than a war on science). Though if I had not gone independent over policy, I would be voted off the island now for atheism.

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

If you aren't drawn to reality TV, you are not a socially normal human.


My wife and I have been waiting for almost 20 years now for the mothership to return for us. Neither of us can truly believe we were native to this planet.

LarryHart said...

Abilard:

Though if I had not gone independent over policy, I would be voted off the [GOP] island now for atheism.


I wonder. Sure, it seems like you have to pass a strong religious test to be political these days, BUT the libertarian Republicans somehow haven't voted Ayn Rand off the island. In fact, she almost IS the island.

Abilard said...

@LarryHart

I am sorry to say they are nuttier than you may realize:

Tea Party Taboo - The Atheism of Ayn Rand

Corey said...

@Abilard

That's an interesting notion on God; I don't think I had even thought of it quite that way.


Early 90s culture war was a hair before my time; I was just a child. I didn't really become aware until the early Bush years, and while the right had many extremists then (just like the left, then and today), I got the distinct impression during those years, oh-so short a time ago, that different sorts of people were "allowed", if you will, to be part of the Republican community.


Back then, people I respected, the moderate New England conservatives, infinitely pragmatic, and hardly partisan, were the sort of people that drew people like my parents to the GOP (hence being raised Republican), in addition to scientists, intellectuals, experts with serious credibility, people who generally surround serious groups with serious ideas.


It's hard to believe that so much has seemed to change in such a short time. My parents are no longer Republicans either. My father is the prototypical ex-Republican independent. He's a mechanical engineer, and always thinks in that rational, pragmatic, mathematical way that people in his field do, another in Brin's "intellectual castes" that have been ostracized.


Also, I'm not surprised at the article on Rand and the TP, not in the least, but it is a good summary of everything I've encountered in that group.

Stefan Jones said...

RE Oregon, Food Stamps, and Portland:

While things are slow all over, it is rural "red" Oregon that is food stamp territory. Things are bad east of the Cascades and down south. There is talk of combining counties to reduce overhead.

A lot of this is due to troubles in old timber towns. They're understandably bitter about restrictions logging old growth forests. There was a system of federal payments to compensate, but those have been cut.

But even in the best of times, it is the high-tech urban areas that paid the bills. I live literally across the street from an Intel plant undergoing a huge build-out; the second largest crane in the world is looming over the neighborhood.

*SIGH* I started the food drive at work yesterday. I hope we have a good showing. Because food stamps aren't enough for a lot of families.

'desicit': When you don't have enough Mr. Arnez.

LarryHart said...

Sigh. I might have known there would be common ground between the Randroids and the Tea-Baggers.

You'd think that militantly-atheist libertarians and militantly-Christianist authoritarians would have little in common. Figures they'd find agreement in "Christianity demands selfishness!" because it requires one to look after one's OWN soul. Never mind HOW one is expected to do so.

Corey said...

You know, today I saw an interesting contrast, reading the news and social sites.


One was a friend's link to a Daily Kos page, outraged over how 60 House Democrats were willing to embrace a 1.5 trillion dollar austerity measure, and another was a Washington post article, outlining how Senate Republicans wouldn't bend an inch to pass a $60 billion infrastructure bill, fully paid for with a 0.7% millionaire tax.


I don't normally read Daily Kos, but today I'm glad I did, ironically to see a point they apparently missed: we can debate left vs right all anyone wants, but at the end of the day, the Democrats have shown yet again that they're moderate, flexible, negotiating pragmatists, if imperfect ones, while the GOP has become a bunch of religious ideologues who can't bend an inch.

sociotard said...

David Brin said
But neither applies to me. Because I am simply DISPROVING an aggressive, full-frontal, bellowing assault arising FROM Red America - aimed at urbanites, professionals, government, and every knowledge caste. The campaign is huge, relentless and overbearing that "we are more moral, we know better ways of living, parenting, teaching that will result in smarter, wiser, and more moral kids.!"


I want to point out that the assault you describe is felt by red states coming from the blue. Tell me, how should Red Staters feel about the movie "Red State"?

Quick, how many intelligent heroes in Hollywood movies can you think of that have noticible southern accents. Morgan Freeman's characters are the exception that proves the rule.

Tim H. said...

I'd say Dr. Brin is going easy on the south, compared to "Deliverance", or Tom Lehrer's "I want to go back to dixie". Not as the north is immune to weird, I recall something on NPR that included Massachusetts, a squirrel and a blender. The phrase that comes to mind is "The pot calling the kettle black", moderation seems like a virtue to be cultivated more.

Stefan Jones said...

"I recall something on NPR that included Massachusetts, a squirrel and a blender."

Yeah, those cooking shows are getting weirder and weirder.

* * *

Beware of phony e-books!

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/11/04/beware-the-wikipedia-scrapers/

'halism': Worship of Hal. Go on, you know you want to. Oooooh, Hal!

sociotard said...

Now I'm wishing that Obama would offer to debate Huntsman.

A) This would undermine current GOP frontrunners and give Huntsman more 'face time'. Obama can probably still beat him, or at least Huntsman won't be any more challenging than the others.

B)It would ensure that America got at least one honest debate between pragmatic adults out of the election process.

And there's nothing much that anyone could do to stop him from doing that.

Corey said...

Agreed, sociotard, it'd be nice

Tim H. said...

Star Wars fans take it way to seriously:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/03/horse_oregon/

Paul451 said...

sociotard,
"Now I'm wishing that Obama would offer to debate Huntsman."

Or offer to debate Perry/etc and pointedly refuse to debate Huntsman.

Seriously, I get the whole "best of a bad crop" enthusiasm, but Huntsman is still an apologist for the oligarchy. "Broaden the tax base", "get some skin in the game", means sack the poor.

(ungly: Attractive words made unattractive through their negation with a prefix. Eg. Unamerican.)

Paul451 said...

The murmur of starlings.

http://vimeo.com/31158841

Just because.

Paul451 said...

We're not quite as elegant. But we have fire.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=pViqep7fmzs

(ferin: Redneck for ignition.)

Paul451 said...

Better link for that last:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqm48D5WZ6A

Particularly the audible comment at the end.

Jacob said...

I don't see anything wrong with going after luxury items often used by those on government assistance. Example: Taxation of lottery tickets at the rate you tax the middle class. Note I'm not talking about winnings but the tickets themselves. I consider the lottery and gambling to be a form of entertainment that is reasonable for people to pursue if they have money to lose. Those that need monetary assistance from others (Government assist or lower taxes) really shouldn't be engaging in its practice.

Now conversely I think we need to tax all forms of income to the higher brackets at least as much as that middle class rate. Likewise we should tax all forms of assets like we do normal property taxes.

This is an example of skin in the game that is reasonable. There are others. They should be created by those with actual empathy for those in hard economic situations.

sociotard said...

I think the Lottery is already a tax.

Jacob said...

Most things do. My question would be is that tax at the same % as your effective tax rate? And as I said that's just one example.

LarryHart said...

Jacob:

Now conversely I think we need to tax all forms of income to the higher brackets at least as much as that middle class rate. Likewise we should tax all forms of assets like we do normal property taxes.


I'm agreeing with you here. To me, it's a sign of obvious game-rigging that "capital gains" is considered something different from "income", something that can be grudgingly taxed at a lower rate, and that hard core Republicans argue with a straight face should not be taxed at all.

Similarly, why is real-estate the ONLY property that should be taxed as property?



This is an example of skin in the game that is reasonable.


Exactly. The government exists (mainly) to PROTECT people's property rights. It is indeed only reasonable that if extra revenue is required in order to do so, that revenue should come from those who make the most use OF that protection AND who also can most easily afford the cost.


There are others. They should be created by those with actual empathy for those in hard economic situations.


I don't want to "eat the rich" or any such thing. I do think a percentage of their good fortune belongs to the society that makes it possible.

We have to get off of this right wing meme that taxation is "punishment". Does your grocery store "punish" you by making you pay for food? Do I HATE my employer because I demand a salary? Taxation is a form of paying for services rendered, services that a democracy mostly DEMANDS.

sociotard said...

Most things do. My question would be is that tax at the same % as your effective tax rate? And as I said that's just one example.

You misunderstand. I don't mean that Lottery tickets are subject to sales tax. I don't mean that lottery winnings are subject to income tax. I mean that holding a lottery is a tax. People voluntarily enter into this tax. They pay money and usually don't get any back. The revenue funds government projects.

Yes, it is entertainment. It is also a tax.

sociotard said...

Most things do. My question would be is that tax at the same % as your effective tax rate? And as I said that's just one example.

You misunderstand. I don't mean that Lottery tickets are subject to sales tax. I don't mean that lottery winnings are subject to income tax. I mean that holding a lottery is a tax. People voluntarily enter into this tax. They pay money and usually don't get any back. The revenue funds government projects.

Yes, it is entertainment. It is also a tax.

sociotard said...

Does anybody know of a good essay or two offering honest criticisms of the President? I was curious, because I'd started to wonder if I just had too many liberal friends, so I tried searching for "worst things obama has done", and that just gets stupid answers like "get elected".

Jacob said...

It is my understanding that Lotteries are normally private business that give a significant % to government in order to justify themselves. Effectively to generate good PR. This may not be universally true.

If it is the case that the % is similar to effective tax rate then we should look in other areas as that Luxury item is 'sharing the burden.'

I understand where you are coming from. I'm just trying to clarify.

Jacob said...

I say that the worst thing he has done has been to be afraid of fundamental Change.

Rob said...

Lotteries in the United States are State-operated games of chance, where the proceeds are commonly earmarked for some noble endeavor, such as "education funding", as in the case (I think) of the Oregon Lottery.

Many of these states coordinate on one or more games, such as the Powerball prize, and a couple of others.

People in my circles call them a "tax on the mathematically challenged," intimating that those with less overall education are persuaded by State-sponsored advertisements to part with money they probably can't afford to part with. The advertisements themselves focus on the big prizes and are, on those grounds, very misleading.

To my knowledge, a lottery never makes up any significant portion of a State's operating budget.

sociotard said...

Lets see, Idaho tax revenue was 8.9 billion, lottery ticket sales were 150 million. (that is just gross, not net) So, less than one percent of the budget.

Robert said...

Using gravitational lensing, astronomers were able to get an image of dust and gas spiraling into a black hole. Sure, it's not a tremendously detailed image, but still, that says something that they can even get this level of imaging!

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

More proof that the Tea Party advocates of personal responsibility have a separate standard for their own selves. Herman "blame yourself!" Cain suddenly accepts that racism might play a part in American society--but only if HE'S the one being victimized.

Hey, if you use your position of authority to harass women and it comes back to haunt you...blame yourself!

I see that Cain and all the righty-talkers are lining up to reprise the Clarence Thomas "high tech lynching" thing. Just for the record, it seems to me that history is vindicating those who didn't want Thomas on the Supreme Court--not because of his race but because of his shameless confilcts of interest. Cain's situation is different, though. As a liberal and as someone who wants to see a second Obama term, I'm not anxious to see Herman Cain knocked out of the running for the GOP nomination in 2012. In fact, if anyone is secretly targeting Cain to get him out of the running, I'd suspect the attack is coming from the right--from someone who wants Obama defeated and knows that Cain can't do the job.

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

Leaving aside the sexual harassment story (which is not to say it is insignificant ... it is definitely noteworthy both as to its substance and as to how Cain reacts to it ...) let me say that as a liberal I would *definitely* like Cain to get the nomination because he would be more frightening to independents and GOP "moderates" than Sarah Palin was. It would be Obama in a walk, and perhaps we could concentrate on the more important Congressional and State races.

But to put on my patriot hat and also to set aside the substantive value of Cain's political nostrums, the biggest problem with Cain is he has no conventional credentials for the job, and such credentials as he possesses has not been tested in the public arena. We saw with Arnold Schwartzeneggar that a person of great success in his chosen field is not necessarily able to translate that ability into public office; the public executive job is just different from anything else. Let Cain prove his ability as a governor ... even as a half-term governor or a ten-year state legislator ... and then he may be qualified for the gig.

We would not ask Cain to pilot the space shuttle without at least a couple of spins in a simulator, and we cannot rationally ask him to pilot our nation without at least a little time practicing executive power limited by a Constitution.

David Brin said...

posting from an airport (brin):

Cain is as much a horror story as Bachmann\, for similar reasons. But the sheer image of two black men fighting it out would stun the world as much as electing Obama did. very one would say "Whoa. Those guys are NOT their stereotype!."

But who are we kidding? GOP voters always shy away from the edge just enough to pick the "electable" guy. We're stuck with Romney. The battle is over the VP slot. And given that all GOP candidates (including Ike but NOT including Reagan) choose deeply unqualified running mates, We might yet see Romney-Palin or Romney Cain...

... tho more likely Romney and some radical-right woman not currently on stage.

Ooooh! Pick Clarence Thoms. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeese?

Tacitus2 said...

Dem VP list is a small sample set. I am not impressed with Biden. Gore would have been a mediocre pres but I guess qualified. Mondale a little better than average.

For 2012

Romney-Martinez

geographic balance, male/female, hispanic, mormon/catholic...

6 Nov 2011

You read it here first

Tacitus

David Brin said...

Tacitus...

1) Johnson, Humphrey, Shriver,Mondale, Bentsen, Gore, Ferraro, Lieberman, Biden...

All fairly sober and experienced people... though I'd admit 3 of them fall a tad short of fully "qualified."

Still is is a list of veritable Washingtons compared to the GOP list of veep noms. An array of loons and dwarves... except... ironically... for the one I personally despise the most. GHWB, the only one "qualified" and the one I hate.

Matinez? Good call on many ways... but hardly a sop to the Tea Party. Romney will have to do that... and thus continue the relentless chain that started with Ike choosing Nixon. Saddling us with yet another top-frontrunner from the insane wing.

Tacitus2 said...

http://detritusofempire.blogspot.com/2011/09/help-wanted-president.html

Tacitus

Tony Fisk said...

@Tacitus2: We, are amused!*

I'm afraid that your call (or, to be more accurate, the heading) elicited this response in me.

*But it demonstrates the same 'GlassWall' anti-pattern I've been railing against for years: how do you get experience in a job when all relevant jobs require prior experience?

Robert said...

Anonymous is trying to get involved with the 2012 U.S. Presidential Elections, calling to occupy the Iowa Caucuses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=qkAWW9CwIRM

I really wish they hadn't done this. The only people they have a chance of influencing is Independents and Democrats. The Republicans will vote for their party as the Lesser of Two Evils. If Anonymous dissuades people to vote for either party... then the Republicans will win. And considering that the Republican candidates are their version of John Kerry... this is not a good thing.

Rob H.

matthew said...

I think it will be Romney / Rubio.
Tea Party friendly, latino, catholic, Florida. Nuff said.

Paul451 said...

We've discussed the idea of replacing single party primaries with open run-off elections, with the best two candidates being the only options in the main election.

I speculated that you would have seen McCain vs Bush in 2000, Obama vs H.Clinton in 2008.

So, given the stench from both the quality of the Republican field, and Obama's poll numbers, a lot of disenchanted Reps and Dems are out there, and I assume every independent is deeply unimpressed.

So if you had an open run-off, with dems and reps both running, who would be the top two?

Robert said...

I think you would see several Democrats running against Obama, and one of them would likely beat him. Which one would run, however, I'm unsure.

Paul451 said...

More idle thoughts: Some threads ago, we also discussed venetian demarchy (semi-random government.)

While having no random elements, my hypothetical McCain vs Bush in 2000 and Obama vs H.Clinton in 2008 got me thinking... it's the unstated subversion that I found amusing, it'd be the Dem voters in 2000 that really chose between those two Republicans, Rep voters in 2008 who would choose between two Democrats. All the well laid plans of party insiders would be thwarted.

Maybe a system like that would deliver a higher standard of President. All voters register for one of two sides (D/R seems obvious, so I'll use that.) Two primaries are held, one for each side. Each side chooses their top two candidates. (Or more? Anyone who gets over 10%?)

When the main election is held, each side votes from amongst the other side's candidates, Dems vote for their preferred Republican and vice-versa, and the candidate selected by the side with the highest turnout wins.

Lots of room for strategic voting. But, in a nation of 100 million register voters, would any strategy stop a large enough majority from voting honestly?

(Besides, could conservative voters risk staying home to guaranteeing a Republican President, but allowing Liberals to pick which Republican. And vice-versa.)

LarryHart said...

Paul451, this is more of an off-the-cuff response than anything well mused over.

I like the idea of exploring alternatives to the election rules we've currently got (which don't seem to be working). But it seems to me self-evident that we get into trouble whenever the rules revolve around individuals declaring party affiliation. In theory, it works so long as the assumption holds that (say) registered Republicans really want a Republican to win the general election. But so long as individuals who want a Republican to win can register "Democrat" and then vote in a way to SABOTAGE that party's chances in the general...well, it's the electoral version of short-selling.

Now there's nothing wrong with short-selling a stock because you think that stock is overvalued and you'll make money when it corrects itself. There is something TERRIBLY wrong about (say) the officers of a company short-selling their OWN stock and then working to bring DOWN their own stock's value. The latter is an obvious conflict of interest, and it is analogous to the kind of mischeief voters can do if allowed to register for a primary of a party they wish to defeat.

I don't know of a way to prevent this, except to say that it makes little sense (to me) to have open primaries in the first place. If we're GOING to have political parties, then the membership OF those parties should decide on who their candidate is, taking electibility in the general election into account. I see no good reason for the public at large to pick which DEMOCRAT and which REPUBLICAN are going to run in a subsequent election.

Anonymous said...

From this morning, an NPR story of interest..

Smile! You're On Cop Camera!
by Martin Kaste
https://www.npr.org/2011/11/07/142016109/smile-youre-on-cop-camera

note the last 3d of the story relates the story behind Eric Rachner's "Seattle Police Video Project" http://seattlepolicevideo.com/

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin said:

... tho more likely Romney and some radical-right woman not currently on stage.

Ooooh! Pick Clarence [Thomas]. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeese?


Maybe it's just me, but I found the juxtaposition of those two sentences hilarious.

sociotard said...

Do you remember the bit in Earth where people used little brain scanners to acheive meditation feats like monks, but faster and easier?

Brain-training games stop depression before it starts


Two brain-training games tested at Stanford University have proven remarkably successful at preventing depression in at-risk teenagers before it starts. In one game, girls could see an MRI scan of their brain while they were shown sad or negative pictures. Seeing which regions of the brain were activated, they were told to try and adopt a more sanguine mental state and later, to try to recreate that mental state in their daily lives. The other game, which replaced a green dot with a happy face, trained the girls to look away from negative emotion.

The teens, girls aged 10 to 14 years, were considered at-risk because their mothers suffer from depression and the girls had already demonstrated a tendency to "amplify" unpleasant information. What the Stanford research shows is that, using knowledge of how the brain responds to certain stimuli, our ability to transform our own mental states is very powerful. And while we typically think our moods are legitimate responses to our environment, oftentimes the power of suggestion is enough to neutralize depression.

sociotard said...

Silly idea for transparency:
Make politicians wear logo-suits like Nascar drivers

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

To briefly digress from politics and discuss your fiction...

I'm on my second reading of "Kiln People", and I'm not sure what sort of mood I was in when I first read it, but I didn't remember a lot of the details. It's almost like I'm reading it for the first time now.

Even though this is a more cartoonish, less "realistic" future than the one imagined in "Earth", it's amusing to see some standard Brin-isms show their faces, such as the whole "How did they ever expect to keep secrets any more?" meme.

I laugh out loud at the name you gave the "mad-scientist's disease", Smersh-Foxleitner. I only get half the joke though. I recognize the name of the Russian spy agency from James Bond, but "Foxleitner" goes over my head. Can anyone out there fill in the blank?

Oh, and the puns in the chapter titles and subtitles are amusing as well.

Looking forward to "Existence" now. Except for a few of the Uplift sequels I've yet to re-read, there's not much old Brin out there for me.

David Brin said...

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/pastor-corporal-punishment-advice-scrutinized-child-deaths-160004793.html

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/
pastor-corporal-punishment-advice-
scrutinized-child-deaths-160004793.html

David Brin said...

Wow I learn a lot from you guys. Rubio... yep latino and florida... and incredibly inexperienced.

That was fine for Obama, who stepped up and was chosen after huge vetting in primaries. Picking Rubio would be yet another insult. A perfect Manchurian candidate.

NOTE! A nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System will occur on Wednesday, November 9 at 2:00 PM EST via TV and radio stations. http://www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws/eas_info.shtm

LarryHart- I can't always recall what impulses made me choose whimsical names... my guess is that Foxleitner was a mix of Fox and Bruce Boxleitner, the actor from Babylon 5 & Tron. Nowadays I often "tuckerize" such names. Several top names in EXISTENCE were auctioned off at charioty fundraisers.


"When historians study the matter they generally concur that our Ten Best Presidents were, in rough order:
Lincoln, Washington, FDR, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Jackson, Truman, Wilson, Eisenhower and John Adams.  This list is the same for historians of liberal and conservative perspective, although the former are holding a torch for LBJ instead of Ike."

I don't have any problems with this list. "best" isn't the same thing as "great". T Roosevelt was the only one who managed to be "great" in good times. A real feat. I would remove Jackson who was a towering figure but who probably did as much harm as good... and replace him with LBJ. People often choose Ike for the wrong reasons.

Tony! Care to log me for this one from Sociotard?

"Remember in Earth where people use brain scanners to acheive meditation feats like monks, faster and easier? Brain-training games stop depression before it starts Two brain-training games tested at Stanford University have proven remarkably successful at preventing depression in at-risk teenagers before it starts. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20707-braintraining-games-stop-depression-before-it-starts.html

Tony Fisk said...

I shall. I'm thinking Ms McGonigal would be *very* interested as well, if she hasn't already heard of it.

On matters climatic:
- It sounds like the NoKXL pipeline movement managed to get a good turnout to surround the Whitehouse... 3 deep. I believe Obama was at home as well! (Who knew? Surely he could have found a prior engagement, *if* he wanted...?! ;-)

- The Australian carbon tax is due to be passed by the Senate today.

- The headmaster at my daughter's school assembly this morning used a thunderstorm to point out that climate was a geological phenomenon while weather was a day to day event.

Tony Fisk said...

I don't recall 'Earth' predicting 'gecko' stick tape, but here it is anyway... http://t.co/CmeIePcS

delogia: a nutritional disorder, possibly due to a science deficit in early infancy.

Tony Fisk said...

Back to that prediction hit found by Sociotard: the only relevant 'Earth' reference I recall were the 'dazers' (p111), which is where I've parked it. Is there something a bit more proactive?

Robert said...

Well, Dr. Brin, it sounds like at least one Democratic congresscritter listens to what you say:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/07/wall-street-transaction-tax-revenue_n_1080493.html

Naturally, Republicans are against it as a tax. Despite the fact it's a tax against speculators and thus an aspect of the economy that is damaging to the U.S. as a whole.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Naturally, Republicans are against it as a tax. Despite the fact it's a tax against speculators and thus an aspect of the economy that is damaging to the U.S. as a whole.


There are (at least) two sides of capitalism. One is the positive-sum game whereby individuals increase their own wealth by providing value to the system in return. Another is the disfunction that infects capitalism when individuals are able to increase their wealth by sucking it OUT of the system.

Republicans make use of the American tendency to praise and admire the first thing in order to defend the second thing--by pretending that they are one and the same.

LarryHart said...

And I see that Herman Cain's latest accuser is a registered Republican, a Tea-Partier, and a listener to Christian-Right radio.

The news stories mention these characteristics in order to lend credibility to her story, as if to say "This is no left-wing hippie trying to unseat Cain for ideological reasons. She MUST be sincere in her allegations because she has no other agenda."

Well, I'm not casting doubt on her story (which seems to be part of a larger pattern now), but I maintain that this is evidence that it is the Right (not the Left) which DOES have an agenda in getting Cain out of the running--they don't think he can win in November. Again, as a liberal who wants to see Obama win a second term, I am NOT anxious to see Cain knocked out of contention for the GOP slot. So I doubt there's some big LIBERAL conspiracy afoot to make that happen.

The original leak of the Cain/harrassment story to Politico seems to have ties to the Rick Perry campaign. To me, THAT makes a lot more sense than looking to blame it on the left-wing media.

David Brin said...

onward