Monday, May 28, 2012

The Next Generation: New Writers of Scientific Imagination

For decades the Clarion Workshop has done service to both literature and civilization by nourishing and tempering some of the brightest new writers of science fiction and fantasy. Eminent authors such as Ted Chiang, Karen Fowler and Neil Gaiman have given generously of their time and expertise. Acceptance is highly competitive and each summer, men and women graduate who later become successful and published authors, helping to both steer and propel the most dauntless of all genres - the one that explores change in our world.  This tradition only was enhanced when the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) became Clarion’s new home, a few years ago. And it will exponentiate with the arrival - on the very same campus - of the new Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination.

Both of these bold endeavors require money, of course.  So you are all welcome to bend the ears of any philanthropists you know!  Beyond that, have a look at the “Write-a-Thon” -- a worthy way for you to participate with very small donations (like a walk-a-thon), only with a sense of connection to the works that gifted writers will produce during the event. (Donors who sponsor a story will get first look. Some might even get characters named after them!)  Give this narrative some room in your mind.


While on the theme of the next generation: amid this graduation season, take a fresh look at this classic video I made when my oldest was graduating from high school:
Things Every College Student Should Know and Do ... some quick "uncle" advice for how to grasp the university experience and squeeze out the real value that's there!

==  Sci-Tech and Miscellany ==

Read a fascinating article about some desperate alternative plans that NASA considered, during the dark early days of the 1960s “space race.”

A fun and informative rumination on my concept of Uplift, and how it might apply to Orangutans.

This article about degrees with zero unemployment surprised me.  Sure, actuarial science.  Maybe geophysics... but astrophysics?  My field... 100% employment?  Then why am I a bum!

Do Rorqual whales have an extra sensory organ to sense krill clumps and control their jaws’ ornate “gulp”?

A growing body of evidence suggests that the molecular machinery of life emits and absorb photons. Now one biologist has evidence that this light is a new form of cellular communication.  ...Biophotons are usually produced at the rate of dozens per second per square centimetre of cell culture. Not many. And it's why the notion that biophoton activity is actually a form of cellular communication is somewhat controversial. Sergey Mayburov at the Lebedev Institute of Physics in Moscow claims to detect patterns. Biophoton streams consist of short quasi-periodic bursts, which he says are remarkably similar to those used to send binary data over a noisy channel.  Fascinating stuff in so many ways. Do cells “communicate” this way? Does this supplement inter-cellular sooms like synapses and chemicals?  And does this have effects INSIDE cells? Fascinating.

This magnificent false-color movie of the sun's surface was captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory over 24 hours. It makes me proud to have once been a solar astronomer. I think I even glimpsed the "Sun Ghosts" from the novel Sundiver!  Notice how at one point you can see the blue (cooler) patched form a sideways "Vee" pattern with its apex at the equator.  Because the sun's differential rotation spins faster at the equator than the higher latitudes.  This is what winds up the magnetic fields which must reconnect and "pop" every eleven years or so...

New research provides the strongest evidence to date that psychopathy is linked to specific structural abnormalities in the brain.

The U.S. manufacturing sector, which is burdened by negative stereotypes, is showing signs of revival, according to speakers at The Future of Manufacturing in the U.S. conference recently held at MIT. The United States added about 50,000 manufacturing jobs this January alone, the largest monthly gain since 1998, and companies such as Ford Motor Co. have moved overseas plants back to the United States.

By combining the light of three powerful infrared telescopes, an international research team has observed the active accretion phase of a super-massive black hole in the center of a galaxy tens of millions of light years away, yielding an unprecedented amount of data for such observations. The resolution at which they were able to observe this highly luminescent active galactic nucleus (AGN) - using a three-telescope interferometer has given them direct confirmation of how mass accretes onto black holes in centers of galaxies.

There are roughly 4,700 potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) with diameters larger than 330 feet (about 100 meters). So far, an estimated 20 to 30 percent of these objects have been found, according to observations from NASA’s  (WISE), which have led to . The discovery that many PHAs tend to be bright says something about their composition; they are more likely to be either stony, like granite, or metallic.

With patience for some erudition, you will learn a lot from David Ronfeldt’s explication about different forms of human group organization, from tribes to hierarchies to markets to networks.

And from the sublime to the ridiculous, Wired has published a way-cool-fun-sarcastic appraisal of the physics of "laser" Blasters in Star Wars.


From The Register: The worst movies ever?

And finally, this has gone viral: The TED Talk You Weren't Supposed To See. Nick Hanauer, a rich entrepreneur explaining why some of the wealthy understand where it all came from... and some do not.

126 comments:

Alex Tolley said...

4 Degrees With 0% Unemployment

I'm not buying Astrophysics either. I suspect it means that you can do something because of the skill set, but not necessarily astrophysics research. I once hired an astronomy PhD to write software in bio-informatics.

Andrew S. Taylor said...

I applied to Clarion West a few years back and, to my surprise, was accepted. I ended up not being able to attend because I had to take a summer class for law school. My SF-writer pals tell me I should have gone anyway. I am published, but not professionally (at least not my SF). I do feel like the boot-camp and hyper-organization of law school has brought me to essentially the same place, but there a pang of regret, no doubt.

Clarion is a great thing, but there needs to be an equally intensive "evening student" equivalent. If I could take evening classes for law school, I should be able to do the same for SF-writing boot camp. It is harder and harder for young or aspiring writers to take 6 weeks away from their jobs and obligations, unless they have some considerable wealth. I'm concerned that this limits the perspective of our future writers.

David Brin said...

AST: Great observations and suggestions. I see your point and wholeheartedly agree. I believe that (despite my distaste for the writer he's become) O.S. Card runs a pretty extensive "how to" operation.

My own contribution is an extensive essay and video for new writers you can find in the lower left at http://www.davidbrin.com

But your overall idea is a worthy one. Let's discuss it in the fall.

db

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

Off on a slight tangent here (as is my wont)... here's an interesting article on eight ways evangelicals and fundamentalists convert people into agnostics and atheists. Too bad I doubt fundies would listen to the warning message here, but this may be for the best, if only to wean more and more people away from the poisonous teat that fundamentalism is for society.

Rob H.

Tony Fisk said...

#9 When someone approaches me smiling, with upper dentures prominently displayed.... I feel a great disturbance in the force at such times.

Andrew Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew S. Taylor said...

DB: Thanks for the link! I enjoyed the video, especially your methodical use of a "test audience" for your manuscripts.

What's happening in the fall?

Ian Gould said...

It looks like privte sapce launch companies are starting to assume the same role for 21st billionaires as ocean-going yachts, art galleries, metropolitan newspapers and sex with Lilly Langtree held for their 19th century counterparts: you need them to let people know you've really made it.

Paul Allen is the latest to get publicity with Stratolaunch systems which wants to marry a scaled-up mothership in the tradition of White Knight from Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites with a multi-stage air-launched orbiter from Elon Musk's SpaceX.

Robert said...

Just a quick question for anyone who might know the reasoning for this: seeing that microfilm exists for the Saturn V blueprints, why is the U.S. government busy building a new heavy-lift rocket when we already have one that exceeds anything available and would have twice the lifting capacity of even the Falcon Heavy rocket once that is developed?

While the technology might be older, it is proven and could even be used as the basis from which to develop a next-generation system.

Rob H.

The Physicist said...

After getting back several form letters from magazines, several expressing apology about how they don't give actual feedback anymore, this actually looks like it might be good just to get a response. How else am I ever going to get better?

David Brin said...

The Physicist: Read my advice article.

some local bookstores keep lists of local wannabe authors and connect them to form workshops. Ask your local to do that.

Or take "creative writing" courses at community colleges and adult centers. They are usually lame and taught by wannabes. But the discipline of meeting a weekly deadline is good and classmates' confusion with some passages IS feedback! After three such courses you'll have met enough local okay writers to form a workshop of your own.

And there are online workshops like critters.

good luck!

Ian said...

Robert: at a guess because it was hugely expesnive and doesn't meet current safety standards.

Also, how's Boeing going to make a billion dollars off that?

Tom Craver said...

@Robert - The right question is, why do we need/want a big one-shot rocket again, at all?

The future is smaller re-usable rockets to get the costs of launch way down.

With great respect to Elon Musk - but I suspect he's going to find that once he gets costs way down on a re-useable launch vehicle of moderate size, the market for larger rockets will dry up. Why pay 3x more to launch a payload, if you can find a way to split it into two launches, and do automated rendezvous and hook-up on orbit? And the market for really big payloads isn't that large to start with.

He's not going to be happy with that, because he wants a big rocket for Mars. But I'll bet he eventually decides to build his Mars ship modularly on orbit, for the same reason.

Paul451 said...

Ian Gould,
"It looks like privte sapce launch companies are starting to assume the same role for 21st billionaires as ocean-going yachts, art galleries, metropolitan newspapers and sex with Lilly Langtree held for their 19th century counterparts: you need them to let people know you've really made it."

[Had to wiki Lilly Langtree. Fun lady.]

I remember an idea floated on sci.space back in the day, presumably inspired by ACClarke's Wind from the Sun, for solar yacht races around the moon. Billionaires and hectamillionaires routinely spend $20m+ on ocean racing power-boats, $50m+ on high end maxi yachts. (**) Once launch costs come down enough, spending $50m every two or four years for a solar yacht, racing it single handed around the moon and back. Then, on the return leg, once you're back through the Van Allen belts and have a re-entry trajectory, you leave the capsule (**) and use an inflatable heat-shield to re-enter the atmosphere, without a capsule just a spacesuit, dump the heat-shield once you're through, and parachute down to the ground to land on your own feet.

Make ocean racing seem a little nancy-boy, wouldn't it.

(**Solar yacht itself either burns up in the atmosphere after you eject, or is steered from the ground into a sling-shot trajectory to head into deep space, where it becomes a science probe to whatever target you want. Presumably the victory is based on when the pilot crosses the finish "line", not when the ship does.)

There were also proposals for open frame landers for a 20th (then 25th, then 30th...) anniversary lunar-landing challenge. The whole flight would be in a space-suit, no capsule, just an open rocket platform. (Instead of separate ascent/descent stages, as on the LM, the rocket platform would have jettisonable fuel tanks.)

There are people who really want to return to the moon.

(** There's a guy in Tasmania who spends a billion dollars a year betting on horse races. Has to hire 300 people just to place his bets. Considers it a hobby.)

(echowt Dennis, - "Are you going out Dennis?", Welsh.)

Paul451 said...

Robert,
"seeing that microfilm exists for the Saturn V blueprints, why is the U.S. government busy building a new heavy-lift rocket when we already have one that exceeds anything available and would have twice the lifting capacity of even the Falcon Heavy rocket once that is developed?"

When we're talking about the Saturn V, we're really only talking about the first stage engines, the F1's. The rest is just tanks and thrust structures, pretty standard stuff. (Plus the guidance and communication systems, which would never be reused.) And the F1's were apparently pushed about as far as their engineering could go. They are inefficient (by modern standards), and the two-stage LEO version of the Saturn V could only loft 70 tons. Plus, while the blueprints exist, nothing else does, the tools to build the engines and the knowledge of how you go from drawings to flame and sky. So you'd need to reengineer the engines with newer technology, and reinvent all the manufacturing, then the new engines would need a new rocket-body anyway... You'd end up with an entirely new rocket via an expensively roundabout path.

That's the official reason.

More likely, since NASA's HSF side is now dominated by shuttle-operations engineers, not rocket engineers, none of them can guarantee their jobs based on existing experience with the shuttle engines and SRBs. The other main culture at NASA is the one that chases the new-shiny-thing, they wouldn't want to go "backwards" either. That leaves you with no major faction pushing for a return to Saturn technology. The "official" reason is just given because it sounds plausible, and allows both factions to nod sagely in agreement. And since NASA doesn't build its own equipment, they would contract to reproduce the F1 engines according to the blueprints. Rocketdyne (the original F1 manufacturers) would probably get the contract. So I suspect that this adds to the internal NASA politics; if you suggest rebuilding the Saturn V, you are accused (behind your back) of merely trying to win work for PWR. (There's actually no reason to give PWR the contract, it's not like they remember anything either. It's just that if you don't give them the contract, and the contractor you do choose is delayed/overbudget, then you will be blamed for not using the "obvious", "most experienced" contractor. No manager worth his beans is going to risk that.)

All IMO.

{otteends have - Is everyone suddenly getting turing phrases with one ridiculously clear word and one with alltheletterscrammedtogether?)

Paul451 said...

Robert,
Re: SatV
"While the technology might be older, it is proven and could even be used as the basis from which to develop a next-generation system."

I agree. And honestly, the process of getting from here to there would teach the next generation of engineers vastly more than trying to shoe-horn shuttle engines (literally the engines removed from the surviving orbiters, not just reusing the design) into a new heavy-lift launcher.

I really think NASA would benefit by having a "rocket school", a post-grad engineering program, jointly funded by NASA, DoD, and their larger aerospace and defence contractors, where they build an actual launcher as their school project. (Something on the scale of the Falcon 1, plus a pressurised capsule.) Sometimes they would start with a clean sheet of paper, sometimes they might try to reproduce an old technology. It might be set up as a four year course, with first-years "apprenticing" to seniors for one year. Second years design their own rocket, in their third year they do the main engineering, specialising into groups, comms, guidance, engines, etc. In their senior year they finish and fly it while passing on their knowledge to the new intake. Each year's graduating class flies a brand new launcher, upper stage, and capsule.

(has spoizec - and is not afraid to use it.)

Ian said...

"Is everyone suddenly getting turing phrases with one ridiculously clear word and one with alltheletterscrammedtogether?"

I know I am.

On the topic of Elon Musk and Falcon Heavy - he apparently has at least one commercial customer for it.

Also bear in mind that just because you have X-tonnes capacity doesn't mean you can only launch satellites of X tonnes.

Once they're assured that the launches are no more risky than other commercial launches, I imagine SpaceX will be putting muliple satellites into orbit on a single Falcon Heavy which may allow them to cut the launch costs per satellite.

It's a given that virtually any Mars mission with currently foreseeable technology will need to be assembled in space. I think that that includes 60's NASA plan (which assumed the use of Saturn Vs).

Robert said...

The sad thing is, according to NASA estimates, it would only have taken a half dozen or so Saturn V and Shuttle combined missions to assemble the entire ISS. The increased cost of using more Saturn Vs would have been more than made up for seeing how much the Shuttle ended up costing. And the ISS would have been assembled within three years instead of the twelve or so it took... and costs would have been reduced as we'd not have had all those delays.

Of course, it also makes me wonder: if we licensed out the Saturn V to Musk and SpaceX to modernize it with their own technologies, how much more efficient would the Saturn VI be? Sure, there'd still be increased costs due to the lack of recoverable sections, but the increased engine efficiency would likely allow even more cargo to be launched into orbit.

Rob H.

Tom Craver said...

Sorry for going off-topic, but I've been reading about the on-going "cyberwar" in the middle-east and the Flame cyberweapon. When someone who "hates us for our freedoms" eventually uses those weapons against the US, the push to end internet freedom will get all the power it needs.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated except for privileges such as entering a public building or using a private or public mode of conveyance or communication, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause or secret national security letter, supported by Oath or affirmation, and approximately describing the place to be searched, and the set of persons or things to be seized."

The Physicist said...

There seems to be a whole school of management thought that refuses to use existing, proven ideas if someone else thought of them. I call it the 'Not Invented Here' mindset.

While not in engineering, the treatment of the Babylon 5 IP is an example. The managers at WB have gone out of their way to mothball the entire franchise, despite a vocal fanbase. This has been done because a now closed division of WB (PTEN) was behind producing the show. As a result, they put out tons of new shows every year that fail instead of going back and looking at making a show they know there is demand for. They even tried to skip on putting the show out on DVD; apparently the cast and producers had to scream bloody murder and threaten lawsuits to get WB to put them out, since the original contract only included VHS tapes. Sci-FI (before the stupid SYFY rebrand) had to go through TNT to get syndication rights, and now that they have reverted to WB it is impossible for anyone to get them. A perfectly good idea is locked up in a vault where even the creator can't get at it, all for some managers' pride.

David Brin said...

The evil instincts that prevail in Hwood are bottomless. tens of thousands of scripts lie in vaults, permanently locked away. Works of art no one will see and the writers cannot even publish as literature.

Re the ISS... in 1983 I authored a Calspace study that showed how with just FIVE shuttle launches we could have had a space station vastly larger than the present one and in many ways far more capable... using Shuttle external tanks and something called the Aft Cargo Carrier.
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/05/shuttle-with-aft-cargo-carrier-1982/

Note the article doesn't even mention the best use, as an airlock INTO the hydrogen tank to be used as laboratory/living space.

Five missions. Woulda been so cool.

---

(** There's a guy in Tasmania who spends a billion dollars a year betting on horse races. Has to hire 300 people just to place his bets. Considers it a hobby.)

Dang what an argument for socialism.

Ian Gould said...

If it's the guy I'm thinking of

a. he's also donated billions to charity and built a world-class modern art gallery in Tasmania (which by Australian standards at least is a poor area and doesn't have lot of major cultural resources);

b. he made his money in the racing industry so when he says it's his hobby he's being flippant;

c. assuming there are races 250 days a year soemwhere in the world, the average amount bet is around $40 million a day.

Robert said...

I just depressed myself by reading an article on how much money conservative billionaires are pushing into the 2012 elections, with their plans to either oust Obama, or if that looks to not be viable, get rid of as many Senators as possible to turn Congress Republican so Obama can't do anything. All thanks to the activist Republican Supreme Court and their Citizen's United ruling. And yet I suspect Republicans see no problem with allowing corporations and billionaires to try and buy political elections... so long as it gets Democrats out of office.

I'm starting to regret having ever voted Republican. But then again, when I voted Republican, they were sane. What's out there today? Isn't.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

But then again, when I voted Republican, they were sane. What's out there today? Isn't.

Well, from their point of view, they're perfectly sane. They're engaging in a successful strategy that gets them their way.

Now, if you want to argue that the voters who vote for these guys are insane, I'm right with you.

Ready for a bad remake of the 2000 show? Florida is purging voter rolls again, just as Katherine Harris did for Bush.

LarryHart said...

Oh, want to be REALLY depressed? I just flipped by Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, and he showed a Washington Post poll indicating that Romney is gaining support among WOMEN. His "unfavorable" rating among women went from 28% in April up to 40% in May.

I mean, where the heck does THAT come from?

Tony Fisk said...

Mitt doesn't seem to be able to afford a proof reader. 'Better AmerCIA'

40 twnsubl: you know, folk are going to feel awfully stupid when AI optical character recognition exceeds human ability. Spam resistance mimicking antibiotic resistance.

Paul451 said...

Rob H,
"if we licensed out the Saturn V"

What licence? I would assume any patents are expired. Were there specific protections for the Saturn V?

David,
Re: Tank farming.
Wasn't there an issue with the insulation "popcorning" in a vacuum? They would have had to switch to internal insulation, which would have meant a larger outer tank, and probably a bunch of other redesigns. (It might also have saved 7 astronauts.) Still, cheaper than the ISS.

(David, I know the shuttle-C was floated since the '80s and brought up again during the post-Freedom studies under Clinton, but was there ever a study of a merged ET/Orbiter module? Ie, instead of turning the ET into a station module, or building a cargo-orbiter to loft modules, create a large space station module as a combined ET/orbiter module (with 2 or 3 expendable RS-68's in place of the SSMEs, regular SRBs, regular launch profile.) Just curious. Always seemed an obvious solution to me.)

Re: Aft cargo carrier.
Since David didn't point it out - for anyone who didn't know, the shuttle stack was capable of launching more cargo than the shuttle orbiter could carry. The orbiter was limited to about 18 tons (I think), since it needed to be able to safely abort to landing. But the stack was capable of lifting an orbiter plus 25 tons (I think).

Re: Locked up IP.
We need a use-it-or-lose-it rule. Or at least a "creator can continue to use the name, setting and characters" artists' right. (Actually, I think there should be an "anyone can create derived works set in the same universe and using the same characters" exemption to copyright. Culture is largely incremental and often derivative.)

Ian,
"If it's the guy I'm thinking of
b. he made his money in the racing industry so when he says it's his hobby he's being flippant;"


Not being flippant. Tax avoidance. Gambling as a hobby isn't taxed, but is if you are considered a professional. He's threatened to take his "hobby" off-shore. And since so many state governments depend on gambling revenues for their budgets, I assume he's expecting pressure to flow upwards to the Federal level.

Larry,
Re: Romney and women.
Winner effect.

(heyducc 11 - now I'm doing images.)

Paul451 said...

Tony,
There was a scheme proposed in NewSci a few years ago, a sequence of images of static, hiding a moving object (or animal), humans are exquisitely good at seeing the object in the static, bots see only static. Never went anywhere (even NS doesn't use it.)

(heinme 31 - wait am I doing street numbers for street view images?)

Roger Kent said...

In my opinion, placing "Avatar" in the category of one of the worst movies ever is incorrect. I understand some of the criticism that it seemed like "Dances with Wolves" in outer space, but on a visual and auditory level, I found it pleasing. I would take it out of that list and substitute a much worthier candidate as one of the worst movie ever, "Mesa of the Lost Woman."

That film score is atrocious. It a very annoying piece of flamenco that plays at the most irritating times, and that music is earworm that one wants to forget, but can not. Jackie Coogan, who was wonderful in The Addams Family TV series, gives one of the worst performances of his life, as an "evil genius" scientist, Doctor Aranya, who wants to take over the world with in a failed experiment using a spider drug on women while ignoring his monster spider army. The plot is confusing and illogical. There are some movies that could be treated as "so bad that it is good." This is not one of them.

Robert said...

To be honest, there are millions of movies that can vie for "Worst Movie" out there. The lower the production cost, the more... horrific it can become. And let's not get started on Uwe Boll. ^^;; (Though I did see an amusing nod to him in a webcomic - he was one of four demons. The other three were big huge scary things. His was a tiny little tentacle monster, whose power was to turn everything he touches into fecal matter. He's used by the protagonists to destroy the artifact keeping the demons on Earth.)

Rob H., who is amused that the anti-bot caption included a blurry photograph of what I think are bricks...

Robert said...

I just had an odd thought about the financial crisis of 2008-2009. What if the entire point of the crisis was to cause millions of mortgages to go into foreclosure so that the land would become the property of the banks... then bilk the government out of over a trillion dollars to keep them afloat... so that the bank owners and those manipulating them could seize control of the majority of the land in this nation and literally become the new feudal overlords merely by land ownership?

Or maybe I just need some extra coffee....

Rob H.

Ian Gould said...

Robert, you'd hvae to ignore the fact that the banks are flogging off the houses and the land beneath them as quickly as they and frequently at a loss.

sociotard said...

Oh look, the nanny state is at it again.

NYC proposes ban on sale of oversized sodas

Okay, not a big deal. It's just a proposal, and it wouldn't actually eliminate soda.

Robert said...

Except who's buying the houses? It's not middle-class Americans, who can't get loans any longer, and it's definitely not poor people. So then, who is buying these houses at discount rates?

Rob H.

rewinn said...

@The Physicist wrote:
"....A perfectly good idea is locked up in a vault where even the creator can't get at it, all for some managers' pride. "

The rational explanation: "...Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven."

For a manager to admit error is to risk demotion; it is better to preside over a failure that you can blame on someone else than over a success for which you must credit another. Organization cannot promote actual successes; they can only promote reported successes, so the skill of appearing to be successful is more important than that of being successful.

(Perhaps I am jaded by a career in industry ... surely things are better in the sciences ;-)

Of course, this has bad consequences for the organization as a whole but if its competition suffers from the same disease, it evens out. There is hope, in that sufficiently wise managers can find ways around the problem, which as the theme of Asimov's "The Gods Themselves" is why it's his best novel IMO (similar protagonists face the novel's central problem; one fails and the other succeeds because of their relative knowledge of how to play the game.)

David Brin said...

Robert asked who is buying up distressed homes. I will tell you anecdotally who I am observing doing it.

Gay couples.

Double incomes, no kids, a superior sense of style and a knack for remodeling? All the couples I know are grabbing fixer uppers and frenetically diving into a process they love, preparing the homes to be flipped when prices go back up. Or as higher-class rentals.

Well, if these are our new feudal overlords, at least there'll be style! And the inherited aristocracy thing may be milder. And the dungeons... oooh, the dungeons....

Robert said...

Thank you, Dr. Brin, I desperately needed a good chuckle. ^^ And it goes to warn me that even those of us aware of the threat behind conspiracy-viewpoint thinking can sometimes be subject to it ourselves.

Now if only one of the conservative Supremes decides in the next week to resign immediately, allowing Obama to put in a new Supreme justice (who can even be anti-abortion to throw the Repubs a bone to choke on) whose viewpoint on Citizen's United is that corporations are NOT people and that the decision was flat out wrong... and then reversed the ruling with the Wisconsin case that is pending. And then gets to it promptly.

Hey, I can dream...

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Robert, tell every sane person - or leftist - who is grumbling or inactive the following three words.

"The Supreme Court."

If they sit and sulk, they are helping bring in 3 more Scalias.

locumranch said...

I enjoyed David Ronfeldt’s TIMN theory on 'social evolution' but found it hopelessly contaminated by both the theological assumption of 'progress' and the equivocation of the term 'evolution' with the less-than-synonymous idea of 'increasing complexity'.

It's much simpler to acknowledge that the so-called 'progress' of TIMN represents a false progression based on a more expansive and/or inclusive terminology as it takes more than one family to create a tribe, more than one tribe to create an institution, more than one institution to create a market and more than one market to create a network.

To argue that the simple addition of 'more than one' represents 'social evolution' is like arguing that 10 dimes 'evolve' into a 1 dollar bill, 100 apples 'evolve' into a bushel or 10 scientific opinions 'equal' an evolutionarily superior consensus.


Best.

Tony Fisk said...

A brief aside:

Anyone interested in issues of 'Human-Computer Interaction' may enrol in a free 5 week online course put out by Scott Klemmer of Stanford University. It started on May 28, but you can probably still catch up.

Details here

Paul451 said...

Fedora has paid to have Microsoft sign the UEFI-compatible bootloader for Fedora's flavour of Linux, so that Fedora can boot on the next generation of PC hardware.

http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/12368.html

UEFI is the next generation BIOS protocol, which includes "secure boot". The OS, as well as all hardware drivers, must be signed by a vendor whose keys are loaded onto the machine. Anything unsigned, or anything signed by a vendor whose keys you don't have, won't be allowed to run. Which set of vendor keys are loaded onto your machine will vary by manufacturer, but anything with Windows 8 certification will of course have a Microsoft key. Most hardware makers will thus pay to have Microsoft sign their drivers, rather than try to convince every single OEM to include their own key. So Fedora have paid to have Microsoft sign their bootloader, same as hardware drivers must do, so future systems will recognise Fedora's key. The alternative is to try to get every system builder to include Fedora's key (and vendor keys for every hardware driver for Fedora.)

The concern people (including me, here) raised was that it allowed Microsoft to once again leverage its near monopoly to force system builders to only include Microsoft-approved keys if they wanted Windows certification (and associated price discounts). This would lock out any rival that Microsoft doesn't like.

Theoretically, you should be able to disable secure-boot by flipping a switch on the motherboard, but you can imagine the marketing contrasting "Secure" Windows with "unsecure" anything else. Plus it adds an added layer of difficulty to trying out a linux boot-disk, which is something the major linux vendors have been working hard at making much easier.

Right now, Microsoft is playing nice. But Linux flavours must still go crawling to Microsoft to get their bootloader signed. It sets a nasty precedent and allows Microsoft to refuse some Linux vendors, and when people accuse them of monopoly-abuse, say "No, look, we've signed Fedora, that's Linux. No, that specific one was blocked because [excuse]". Just make it hard enough to break update-cycles, or interfere when a rival vendor is about to make a major (say government) contract, etc, or cause hardware makers enough grief about signing their Linux drivers that they stop bothering to support Linux. Chip chip chip. Little things that can be individually defended, but collectively degrading the ability of any rival to compete against Microsoft.

Paul451 said...

Meanwhile, China, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia are asking the UN to take control of the Internet (to take over the functions of ICANN.) And the UN bureaucrats are already talking about "click-taxes" for certain sites (Google, iTunes, Facebook, Netflix), to fund UN 3rd world broadband projects. "[using] international mandates to charge certain Web destinations on a 'per-click' basis to fund the build-out of broadband infrastructure across the globe" and allowing ""governments to monitor and restrict content or impose economic costs upon international data flows."

A few people object.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57444629-83/u.n-takeover-of-the-internet-must-be-stopped-u.s-warns/

Paul451 said...

North Carolina legislators want to stop planners from using the state's own science panel's prediction of sea level rise (about 1m by 2100, fairly conservative from what I've been reading.)

http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/05/28/2096124/coastal-nc-counties-fighting-sea.html

Faith based reality. If you don't believe in it, it won't happen.

And, apropos, Google's recapcha has been broken with over 99% accuracy (which is apparently better than most people.) The hackers actually used the audio cues, not the visual.

http://arstechnica.com/security/2012/05/google-recaptcha-brought-to-its-knees/

Paul451 said...

Oh and has anyone been watching the left-wing anti-science terrorists in Europe? One bombing, one shooting so far, threats of more. Science is slavery, apparently. If anyone needs a reminded that the left is as nuts as the right.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21860-violent-antiscience-anarchists-vow-to-strike-again.html

Paul451 said...

s/reminded/reminder

infanttyrone said...

If anyone needs a reminder that the left is as nuts as the right.

Can some on the left get as far out as some on the right ? Sure.
Do they do it as often or in even remotely similar numbers ? I doubt it.

One bombing, one shooting ? More to come ?
Compared to what so-called pro-lifers have done here in the U.S., that isn't even an auspicious start, much less a trend that might grow to anything close to parity.

Sounds more like some European version of DHS/CIA has created their own Frankenstein monster, like our guys have given the spark of life to terror cells here. ISI has the Taliban; Mossad has Hezbollah. U.S. anti-abortion militias maybe the most authentic of any of these, and sometimes I wonder about them.

Tom Craver said...

@Paul451 re: NC sea level law.

It's fun to cast the NC-20 as know-nothing anti-science zealots, but that really doesn't seem to be the case.

The NC-20 linear rise model is based on a century of roughly linear increases, which of course would include all AGW impact to date. Basing a model on historical data is hardly anti-science.

The "science panel" projected a range from 15 to 55 inches - no doubt accurately reflecting the wide range of sea level projections they encountered in their review.

So why did they settle on 1m "for planning purposes"? Most likely it was just a nice round number in the middle of their range that they felt was "conservative" in some sense. That's not scientific, it's a CYA political choice.

Finally, consider http://www.carolinajournal.com/exclusives/display_exclusive.html?id=8781

“We brought it down after talking with Droz and other individuals,” said John Dorman, director of the flood mapping program for the Office of Emergency Management. “We believe, as Mr. Droz says — and I’ll give him credit for that — that it needs to be based on science.

David Brin said...

North Carolina legislators want to stop planners from using the state's own science panel's prediction of sea level rise (about 1m by 2100, fairly conservative.) There is one potential salvation from this madness. For the insurance companies to make clear that, in 20 years, they plan to go after all the doofuses who delayed prudent measures by squelching the reasonable advice of the scientists who actually knew what they were talking about.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/05/28/2096124/coastal-nc-counties-fighting-sea.html
Paul: "If anyone needs a reminded that the left is as nuts as the right."
Yes, you've heard me say it. As crazy. But the left's crazies aren't anywhere near as numerous or powerful or (currently) dangerous.

Har har...

http://screen.yahoo.com/the-mitt-romney-dog-video-29485282.html?pb_list=23dce613-c500-43f0-9134-70e58b73187a

David Brin said...

For the transit of Venus:
http://transitofvenus.nl/wp/where-when/local-transit-times/

http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/transit/venus/city12-2.html

more general info: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/05/30/everything-you-need-to-know-about-next-weeks-transit-of-venus/

Larry Hart said...

rhetorical question:

All the conservatives who insist that spending is done by congress, and that therefore the Reagan deficits were really Tip O'Neill's, that the Clinton surpluses were really Gingrich's, and that the collapse of the Bush economy was on Nancy Pelosi...

Why is the continuing slump in the economy now supposed to be Obama's fault, reason to vote him out and replace him with the same party currently obstructing every possible solution in congress?

sports funia said...

nice looking

Tacitus2 said...

"Why is the continuing slump in the economy now supposed to be Obama's fault, reason to vote him out and replace him with the same party currently obstructing every possible solution in congress?"

LarryHart,

At the moment we have obstructionism going in several directions. The House passes bills that have not a prayer in the Senate and vice versa. And there is the reality of legislative inaction due to filibuster and to procedural interment. Also, much as he is loathe to take an active stand, the President can threaten to veto things.

It should make the electorate unhappy and it has, although various sections of said electorate are more unhappy with some of the above players than others.

I have been trying to stay apolitical in the last couple of months (also have been off on adventures), but with the Wisconsin recall coming to full boil in a few days I shall have to re-enter the fray.

If I get a little riled up on the topic, please allow for the fact that here in Wisconsin we are seeing a level of campaign energy usually reserved for the weeks leading up to a closely contested Presidential election. I will make similar allowances for all of you non Badgers in a few months.

Tacitus2
from Bratislavia, North Cheesistan

David Brin said...

The current gridlock is bipartisan disfunctional, true. So look at the past when the GOP controlled all 3 branches of Govt . 2001-2007 and did...

...virtually nothing, except open our veins to Wall Street. Laziest Congress in 100 years. All the screaming over what oughta happen. Response: "You had your chance to do ALL of that."

The Dems controlled two branches from 2009 to 2011. They took on lots of stuff. Some are unhappy they did so little, but it was a fair amount of vigorous attempted problem solving...

...but the third branch will probably veto much of it.

There is only one rationalization not to crush the GOP for their fecklessness, laziness and 100% record of bad governance and horrible outcomes. If you can convince yourself that static rigor-mortis non-government is a GOOOOOD thing, then sure. Go with the status quo by keeping the GOP on life support.

OTOH if it gets crushed, then guys like Tacitus might actually rise up and take back their movement from monsters. I like Tacitus. Could argue with him. Come up with negotiated solutions.

Andrew S. Taylor said...

I was willing to cast a pragmatic vote this time around for Obama (as I did in '08), but his serial use drone-strikes crossed a line for me. Not that Romney wouldn't continue the policy, but I feel the need for a protest vote. It is very hard for me to sanction either party at this point. Perhaps I am irrational. It is, indeed, a visceral, emotional thing for me. But I do think there is a rational basis for arguing that the greatest threat to the Constitution is not the Scalias in the judiciary, but rather the executive branch.

Rob said...

Ah David. Anecdote or two:

I was called "a progressive" by a relative the other day. He sneered when he said it.

Another relative, a struggling small businessman with everything to gain if an honest government understood his circumstance, recently got a copy of the American Community Survey from the Census Bureau. Because the text on the survey cites the law and a fine if you don't answer and return the information, he threw it out.

I don't think these people will "take back their movement". The monster of lawlessness, of conflating laws with lawgivers-who-are-not-God, lurks within.

But maybe that's also one hook: point out that dismissive contempt of government is tantamount to lawlessness, when it takes certain forms. See what dissonance falls out of that.

I'd attempt it, but I know these relatives well enough to know that it would only enhance their stubbornness about it.

Tacitus2 said...

Anecdotes are important. They give a "microenvironment" view of our body politic.

Being skeptical of conspiracy theories I think our problems largely arise from our citizenship. If you tolerate fools and rascals because they wear your brand name or bring home the earmarks you are part of the problem.

In general people get the kind of goverment they deserve.
So I am of the opinion that our solutions will come from below, not above. When states get their act together the federal goverment will sort things out.
This is why what is going on in Wisconsin is so important. No gridlock here, a rookie governor and both houses of legislature passed laws that will significantly change the fiscal landscape.
Some people hate this, largely out of self interest.
Regards Gov. Walker's other moves they are a mixed bag, I do not approve of all of them.
But here we have, at least until Tuesday!, leadership.
Wisconsin's issues are not the same as those in LarryHart's Illinois or ReWinn's Washington state or Brin's California.
But in all instances energies could be better applied working on things from the ground up. Surely more useful than all the fuss and bother expended on this forum over-SQUIRREL!-distractions like Herman Cain and Michelle Bachman and whether Obama ate Fido as a young man!
Tacitus2

Rob said...

Tacitus, I think one has to beware of the astroturf organizations who arrive to organize and "empower" citizenry, armed, however, with a predetermined solution to a strawman problem.

I recently encountered such an org, named "Stand for Children". They focus on education, with a goal to enact and establish charter schools around the country.

No amount of perspective-offering changed the solutions they were chasing.

Tony Fisk said...

Anecdotes are fine as flagging that there's a problem, but don't rely on them to identify the underlying cause.

Rob said...

Tony, in the two cases I mentioned, if you go back far enough, the underlying cause is rooted in the way the people of the Utah Territory were treated by the Federal government in the Reconstruction and Gilded Age eras, namely, poorly, and with avowed intent to force conformity.

The distrust that cultivated survived through the ensuing century to manifest itself in many ways. Two of them are suspicion of the census bureau and a sneer at "progressivism".

Robert said...

The problem with the current brand of Republicans lies with situations like this one on restaurant workers and minimum wage. The restaurant industry has lobbied successfully to keep their workers on slave labor wages. What's more, they don't educate their workers and rely on fear of losing their job if they protest to get away with not paying them minimum wage if their tips and wage doesn't equal minimum wage.

Republicans want to push back minimum wage. They call it job-killing. They would also eliminate worker rights and increase employer rights, in the name of increasing employment when in fact it just gives employers the right to screw over employees and get away with it.

And if Republican laws get passed to give employers more rights, you can bet the Republican Supreme Court will strike down state labor laws and ignore the 10th Amendment when employers sue. The end result is the destruction of the majority of worker rights, the destruction of the unions, and the destruction of the middle class.

I see this because it's what I would do if I was in the position of Republicans who wanted to keep their jobs in Washington while ensuring maximum donations from industry. I suspect my cynicism may not go far enough in determining just what Republicans would do when given another shot at controlling all three branches of Congress.

(Small note: you can be sure that the first thing Republicans will do if they get the House, Senate, and Presidency is to strike down the filibuster so to ensure their own tactics aren't used against them.)

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Andrew S Taylor:

I was willing to cast a pragmatic vote this time around for Obama (as I did in '08), but his serial use drone-strikes crossed a line for me.


I've heard that from conservative friends. "How do you feel about Obama now that he didn't close Gitmo and continued bailing out billionaires?" My response is always that if Obama was really as bad for the reasons they are trying to convince me, then they should love him. The fact that they still decry him as a socialist secret-Muslim tells me that there most certainly is a difference between the two parties.


Not that Romney wouldn't continue the policy, but I feel the need for a protest vote. It is very hard for me to sanction either party at this point.


Understood, but keep in mind that that's exactly the reaction they want from you. Negative campaign ads are meant to discourage turnout and make the average citizen feel powerless.

Ian Gould said...

A quick note regarding drone strikes:

1. Drones are relatively cheap.

2. Drone (obviously) don't require a human pilot.

Those two factors combined mean that because the cost of losing a drone is much lower, drones can fly in lower and slower than manned aircraft and can risk multiple passes over a target to confirm the nature of the target.

The end-result is a much higher degree of accuracy than manned aircraft and fewer civilian casualties. Compared to previous wars including the first Gulf War (and despite some highly-publicized and tragic errors)the civilian death-toll from US air operations in Afghanistan has been extremely low.

Not using drones in Afghanistan would mean more dead Americans and many many more dead Afghanis.

Ian said...

Time for some Sf-contrarianiasm:

We're told that a. human space flight is expensive, dangerous and unnecessary, and that b. the electorates in democracies will for those reasons mever support it.

Let's supose that's true: doesn't that imply that the human future in space will inevitably fall to non-democratic states?

What if the first permanent space colony is established by by the US or Russia or china or india but, say, by North Korea or Iran?

Ian said...

There's a fairly obvious "not" missing from that last sentence.

Paul451 said...

Re: Rob's anecdote and recent comments.

Bizarre that the great sin in modern America is to believe in progress and liberty.

Andrew,

Think of it like animal breeding. Your starting population are all virtually the same, and vastly different from what you want. But by exploiting the smallest differences (and occasional "sports"), you can surprisingly quickly select for traits that you actually want.

It is what people like Norquist and Ailes and others have been doing to the right since Reagan. Reagan was the arch-conservative of the era, today he couldn't get on the ballot. That didn't happen by mistake, nor was it the result of random acts of madness by the Republican party, it was a deliberate 30 year "breeding" program.

Every time someone like you plays "they're all as bad as each other", another "generation" is selected by the other side.

paper cup machines said...

Nice blog. Thanks for sharing those useful information's in all categories.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2,

I'll be watching the Wisconsin recall election with great interest. The two sides seem to not only have different preferences, but a whole different set of (incompatible) facts to support their positions. I don't know whether to believe that Walker saved the state millions of dollars that used to go to greedy public unions and actually increased public services, or that he imposed a huge debt upon the state by slashing taxes on the Koch brothers (et al) forcing drastic austerity on the state just to make up the difference.

I know which I'm inclined to believe, but I'm also realist enough (and liberal enough) to understand I may be wrong.

However, I'll make a prediction that will be verifiable in three days, that we'll see some sort of controversial vote-counting surprise out of Waukeshau County.

Now, to demonstrate that I can also sometimes stay apolitical, my next post is an "Uplift"-related question for our esteemed host.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin,

I have a question about the Uplift universe.

Way, way back when I first read "Startide Rising", there was a brief scene where Tom Orley fights a Gubru, and at the time, I imagined them to be manlike creatures with wings and talons.

A year or so later, having totally forgotten that scene, I read "The Uplift War" which prominently features the Gubru, and in that book, I pictured them as large bird-like beings with hands.

Do you have a definitive Gubru image in your head that you'd care to share with the class?

A separate question, now that I'm toward the end of my "Brightness Reef" re-read: This book hints at a conflict between humans and Jophur (with Hoons helping the Jophur) which caused Earthlings to seek safety on Jijo. To your recollection, was that backstory brand new for the second trilogy, or was it already known or hinted at in the first? I ask because I don't remember the Jophur or the Hoon at all in the original trilogy, but the Streaker crew is obviously well aware of them as hostile races.

Jumper said...

In the U.S. there exists an interesting (to me) organization: the National Governors' Association.
http://www.nga.org/cms/home.html
I often wonder how it would be if that organization flexed its muscles more, especially in the case of companies playing off one state against others in lowering taxes in order to build its factories there.

Of course the U.S. Constitution forbids any other than the named branches of holding any legal powers. I sometimes wonder "but what if..?"

sociotard said...

Robert said: (Small note: you can be sure that the first thing Republicans will do if they get the House, Senate, and Presidency is to strike down the filibuster so to ensure their own tactics aren't used against them.)

*Brin Mode, Activated*
I will wager $50 (to the charity of your choice) that you are completely wrong. If the Republicans win the presidency and both branches of congress in November, they will not proceed to end Filibuster. They are well aware that they'll want it the next time they have a minority in the Senate. They will not change it, even if they get a full 60 members in the Senate.

Clarification: The wager is only for actually changing filibuster rules, not emitting hot air suggesting changing filibuster rules. Actual change only.

Rob said...

I recall that they called it "The Nuclear Option" a few years ago, getting rid of or modifying cloture rules.

@Jumper, there are all kinds of interstate compacts. For example, the National Popular Vote initiative (nationalpopularvote.com) is the law in Washington State. Once enough states also pass a law awarding electors to the national popular vote winner, the law becomes effective for the next presidency.

I don't agree with it, but it's one way that states wield extra-federal powers. Every state has the right to award electors however it wants, after all.

@Paul451 -- They think of "progress" and "liberty" as "being left the hell alone and not asked for income tax returns."

LarryHart said...

sociotard:

If the Republicans win the presidency and both branches of congress in November, they will not proceed to end Filibuster. They are well aware that they'll want it the next time they have a minority in the Senate. They will not change it, even if they get a full 60 members in the Senate.


If they have 60 members in the Senate, they wouldn't need to change the filibuster rule. They could override any filibuster the Dems attempted. Thus, as you suggest, better to leave the rule alone for the next time they might need it.

The filibuster is most useful in the situation the Senate GOP found itself in between 2009 and 2010: that of both the House and the Presidency against them. The filibuster was their sole bulwark against a Democratic-controlled agenda, and they used it for all it was worth. I will take your bet and double it ($100) if we limit the circumstances to: The next time the Republicans control the Presidency, the House and the Senate but without 60 Senators (putting the Democratic Senators in the same position the GOP Senators were in in 2009-2010). In that case, the first time the Democrats attempted a filibuster, I guarantee you the Republicans would blow up the rule.

sociotard said...

LarryHart: If they have 60 members in the Senate, they wouldn't need to change the filibuster rule. They could override any filibuster the Dems attempted. Thus, as you suggest, better to leave the rule alone for the next time they might need it.

Point conceded.

The filibuster is most useful in the situation the Senate GOP found itself in between 2009 and 2010: that of both the House and the Presidency against them. The filibuster was their sole bulwark against a Democratic-controlled agenda, and they used it for all it was worth. I will take your bet and double it ($100) if we limit the circumstances to: The next time the Republicans control the Presidency, the House and the Senate but without 60 Senators (putting the Democratic Senators in the same position the GOP Senators were in in 2009-2010). In that case, the first time the Democrats attempted a filibuster, I guarantee you the Republicans would blow up the rule.

Challenge accepted. $100. Conditions:
*Republican president
*Republican House
*50-59 Republicans in Senate
*Actually passing a new Senate rule, not just putting it to vote and failing
*Timespan 2013-2015
My Charity is Heifer International. Yours?

$100 is as high as I'm able to go, so I can't match a new bid from Rob.

sociotard said...

I added the time limit because I have a harder time guessing the odds too far in the future. Anyway, I'd have a hard enough time tracking this bet for 2+ years.

David Brin said...

This is brilliant. I'm never going to hear that song again without these images going through me head. "O Fortuna" is a medieval Latin Goliardic poem written early in the thirteenth century, part of the collection known as the Carmina Burana. It is a complaint about fate, set to music in the 1930s by Carl Ordd. Only now, we finally know what the words mean! Hiilarious. (And thanks Stefan.) http://www.wimp.com/ofortuna/

And amazing ride via cameras on the shuttle solid rocket boosters. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aCOyOvOw5c

====

Andrew S. Taylor, I have zero sympathy for your position. Sorry I despise Plato and essentialism. I care about outcomes. If the Dems rule then we will get better legislation and a sane court.

War will be about surgical strikes that you don't like, and NOT about massive, unjustified trillion dollar pound-everything in sight debacles that you don't like. SOrry to make you choose. Squeeze your nose and pick one.

If you choose to ride your high horse, then I hope you live in an all-red or all-blue state. Even so, you are a fool. But then you can afford this stance. If you do this in a place where your vote matters? Alas.

===

Rob, politics and government are the methods by which we, as a people and citizens, negotiate and choose joint projects to do together. It's a little harder to hate a phrase like that. In any event, defy your pals to do without jets, weather reports, pharmaceuticals, telecom (of any form) or the Internet.

===

Tacitus, you speak well and cogently, but I consider it to be rationalization. Walker is part of a nationwide movement that aims to lobotomize our country and that attacks ever knowledge caste in America. All right, so public employee workers had a cushy ride and needed to be taken down a peg. I have always been willing to see things case by case.

That is NOT what's happening here.

===

LarryHart hi. I suppose the "definitive" rendering of the Gubru would be in CONTACTING ALIENS. But in fact, I have always believed the reader has just as much authority in matters of visualization as I do!

The past hostility from Jophur and hoon etc is something I mention, but have never elucidated in any other place, except to say in SUNDIVER that plenty of races resent the Terragens' "wolfling" claims.

Jumper I have long believed that the National Governors' Conference should be VASTLY more effective than it is. There are so many things that could be negotiated outside of Washington... and have been! Like the Uniform Business Code. I dream of things like a treaty not to compete with each other offering sweetheart deals to sports teams and factories, undercutting each others' tax bases. Or TRADES to eliminate gerrymandering. So many things.

But the problem remains the same. Every offer gets shot down by those who insist on doing abortion first.

I agree with Sociotard. The goppers will keep the filibuster, even in charge, because they want static do-nothing decline, not active legislation. Besides, they know dems are wimps and won't use it much. They didn't during 2001-2007.

David Brin said...

What the dems should do is demand that every GOP filibuster ACTUALLY consist of a Republican senator talking on and on, into the night.

LarryHart said...

sociotard:

Challenge accepted. $100. Conditions:
*Republican president
*Republican House
*50-59 Republicans in Senate
*Actually passing a new Senate rule, not just putting it to vote and failing
*Timespan 2013-2015
My Charity is Heifer International. Yours?


Planned Parenthood.

And I hope to God (I say as an agnostic) that the bet is moot. Because if we have a Republican president and Congress in 2013, the Endarkenment is surely upon us.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin,

Once again, you prove eerily prescient, not with an actual predictive hit, but nonetheless a prediction of today's political zeitgeist in a book published almost 20 years ago.

From a climactic moment toward the end of "Brightness Reef":


That price, Sara could envision. For UrKachu, a return to the glory days of wild warriors roaming free--not incompatible with Jop's goal to have all the dams, machines, and books cast down, speeding humanity along the Path of Redemption.

Neither seemed to fear the chance of renewed war, so clear was the contempt each held for the other. At the moment, it hardly mattered.

We are in the hands of maniacs Sara thought. Fools who will ruin us all.

Rob said...

David,

zzzt. One of them (alongside me) has worked in telecom. If there's any industry blinded by its own desire to get out from underneath regulation, or to capture it (they've captured it, by the way) it's telecom. Another is sure that ONLY government is corrupt. And they won't take a bet, citing a religious prohibition.

I usually use Heinlein's phrasing, from _Podkayne of Mars'_ Uncle character, pointing out that politics is the innovation that brought mankind forward from hurling stones and beating each other with clubs. That it's *better*.

It has never brought any sense of effective perspective, desire to participate, or greater optimism. I'm flogging a dead horse.

Ian Gould said...

While it's true that Republcians have been guilty of blaming Congress for problems during Republican Presidencies and blaming the President during Democrat Presidencies, we're seeing exactly the same thign from the current administration right now.

After six months of claiming credit for rising employment numbers, the Obaam administration (specifically David Axelrod) is blaiming a poor April figure on Congressional obstructionism.

Andrew Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew S. Taylor said...

DB, et al.:

Sorry, I wasn't clear. I don't have a problem with the use of drones per se. I agree that there are reasons why they are an improvement over traditional methods.

What I have a problem with is the fact that the executive branch now feels that they can use drones against American citizens, without any due process, or that due process is satisfied by "executive deliberation." And the fact that he has centralized the decision-making process in general about how and when strikes are undertaken. I refer you to the recent NYT article on the subject, or to the much more thorough coverage given by Glenn Greenwald on his blog. This, coupled with recent lobbying for the use of drone in domestic airspace, has me worried, to say the least.

DB, I despite essentialism and Plato as much as you do. I am and have always been a pragmatist. As a practical concern, I have to think about whether my vote is registered as approval for a particular policy or not. It is immensely asinine to suggest that voting in protest is some form of puritanical, self-aggrandizing gesture on my part, and not something I perceive as a practical necessity. I've been voting democrat for 20 years (when I first was legally able to do so) only to see that party get steamrolled like the bunch of pathological narcissists they are.

I live in state that will go for Obama without question. They don't need my vote. I can get more mileage on behalf of my interestes by taking my vote to a third party. Is this not pragmatic?

Democracy is great...but vote Democrat or else? Is that your message?

I'll respond to some of what others have said a bit later.

LarryHart said...

Ian Gould:

While it's true that Republcians have been guilty of blaming Congress for problems during Republican Presidencies and blaming the President during Democrat Presidencies, we're seeing exactly the same thign from the current administration right now.

After six months of claiming credit for rising employment numbers, the Obaam administration (specifically David Axelrod) is blaiming a poor April figure on Congressional obstructionism.


Sorry, but I don't see an inconsistency. Republicans have been obstructing any congressional action from day-1. This is not speculation--it's Mitch McConnell's explicitly-stated strategy.

So it's not hypocritical for the administration to take credit for good things that happen despite GOP efforts to prevent them (such as saving the auto industry) while blaming the obstrctionists for the damage they have done.

Note, I'm not claiming here that the Axlerod position is correct--just that it isn't hypocritical.

The problem that I have is that it's becoming obvious to economists--even the ones who didn't want to admit it--that austerity in the face of a recession/depression is exactly the wrong policy. And the austerity budgets we've been operating under lately are the result of the Democrats' need to compromise with Tea Baggers in congress and in state houses. The stimulus failed because it was too small, not because stimulus was the wrong policy to pursue in the face of a depression. But now the GOP, who forced government spending to be too small to help us out of recession are campaigning on "The Obama policy of (lack of) stimulus didn't help, so vote for us instead, and we'll cut spending even further!" Exactly the wrong thing to do.

But people are buying it anyway.

LarryHart said...

Andrew S Taylor:

Democracy is great...but vote Democrat or else? Is that your message?


Well, only because of the alternative. More like "Democracy is great, but voting Republican is not an option."

David Brin said...

Rob, I understand that they will refuse to bet. You must make clear that their excuses are at best weasly and un-manly. That a man is willing to stand up and stand by his declarations.

Offer to have it be bets leading to donations to charity. Then shake your head in pity at blowhards who are too girly to put anything on the line.

Oh... maybe trap them first! By slyly offering bets on sporting events or local elections!

Andrew, I see no distinction between assassinating an american citizen and anyone else. It is a violation of due process that makes me very uncomfortable...

... and that is the absolutely fundamental. Obama's base worries deeply about such things. There are limits to how far a dem prex can go in that direction, period. And no limits whatsoever on what a goper prex can rationalize to his own marching morons. Sorry, you are in a civil war. Lincoln did some unpleasant things, too, but we're glad he won.

Andrew S. Taylor said...

David,

I agree 100% percent that we are in a civil war, and if the Democratic party admitted that to itself I would be much happier. The Republicans certainly see it as a civil war. But the dems keep wanting to make everyone happy -- a weaker position out of the gate. They keep getting dragged to the "right" as a result. If the democrats could instill the same fear, and show the same lack of interest in how the other side perceives their sanity, we'd have a real opposition and a worthy fight. Lincoln did not worry about common ground with the other side before defeating them. Obama is no Lincoln.

Paul451,

Your evolutionary example is cute, but too obvious. Of course, change is incremental. More importantly, and following up on my previous paragraph, the democrats aren't on that page. They have not expressed the kind of long-term agenda that the gop has kept to with considerable discipline over the decades. They lack a vision, and are wedded to exigency. You can't move in a particular direction if you don't [i]have[/i] one. And the party has defined no such direction.

The GOP vision is and has been winning the fight for the center (a few social issues excepted). Ever wonder why?

Am I allowed to suggest that the democrats take responsibility for their losses?

Ian Gould said...

Andrew Taylor, how do you propose dealing with a violent terrorist actively involved in ongoing planning of future terrorist attacks who is hiding out in a foreign country in an area under the military control of Al Qaida?

Send him a summons in the mail?

Ian Gould said...

Another random thought: what if the first AI emerges not from the military-industrial complex; not from computer trading systems but from the ongoing evolutionary struggle between spambots and comment filters

LarryHart said...

Andrew S Taylor:

Am I allowed to suggest that the democrats take responsibility for their losses?


Of course you are, and if we were discussing a game or a sporting event, you'd have more of a point. I've been a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan for over forty years, but if they're not going to field a winning team, that's the orgainization's own fault.

But that's one of the problems of our current political scene--treating elections as games where the office is the "prize" one earns by winning the contest. That's a perversion of the concept of elections--that the electorate votes into office someone they expect to do the job well.

There are a lot of reasons I am discontented with the Democratic Party, but I'm not going to "punish" them or to "refuse to reward" them by voting for their anti-Enlightenment opponents.

As Dr Brin said, we're in a war. I wish the WWII-era United States had not interred its Japanese citizens or firebombed Dresden, but it would be ridiculous, at the time, to have expressed that dissatisfaction by working for an Axis victory.

Tacitus2 said...

"Tacitus, you speak well and cogently, but I consider it to be rationalization. Walker is part of a nationwide movement that aims to lobotomize our country and that attacks ever knowledge caste in America. All right, so public employee workers had a cushy ride and needed to be taken down a peg. I have always been willing to see things case by case.

That is NOT what's happening here."

Well, thanks. You may consider my opinons to be rationalizations, but you might also consider that I know the situation in Wisconsin a little better than you do. But as you are willing to consider things case by case...

In LarryHart's state of Illinois the legislature, unfettered by any Republican interference, seems to have adjourned without taking up public pension reforms that they were tasked to consider. But they did pass a bill regarding miniature horses so there is that.

In your fine state of California I was surprised to see that there is a significant referendum on for Tuesday. San Jose , hardly a Tea Party stronghold, is addressing underfunded public employee benefits....with nary a peep from the media. I guess with no visible Republicans to play the role of villain it is a non story.

Anyway, to answer a question or two from LarryHart. I have seen some changes since the Walker reforms. State agencies have "unfrozen" hiring. Some old school employees have taken their current benefits and run. And a sane fiscal outlook has freed up funds. One consequence is that my eldest son is now a State employee, and is in his dream job. He will do well with it. He asked his old man to look over his options for insurance and health plans. I was almost drooling, they are still-as workers groan under Walker's whip-exponentially better than mine.

Folks from outside Wisconsin probably do not grasp the extent to which public employee unions commanded the state Democratic party. Nor the extent to which local governments and public unions were not bargaining in good faith. Many contracts specified a certain health insurer with close ties to the unions...in a no bid situation that raised costs 1/3 over competitively bid contracts.

I could go on. Likely will. But please do not denigrate or "strawman" genuine fiscal conservatism. Walker is taking the heat that lets other public officials attempt to do what is necessary. Other than in IL of course.

Tacitus2
hope the damn html links work this time.

Andrew S. Taylor said...

Ian Gould:

The question is both artificially narrow and deceptively broad. Narrow as a matter of Constitutional principle, broad in the context of tactical decisions made moment-to-moment.

The president can currently order anyone dead if he thinks they're a terrorist. Anyone. The only thing holding him back is popular opinion, which is already heavily swayed by an oligarchic media. Now, I have no problem with killing people who are trying to kill me. But if the executive is going to make these decisions -- don't you think there should be a standard of legal review beyond "internal executive deliberation" held in secret? There's a little wiggle room, to say the least, between that and "issuing a summons" in the mail. Try to take this a little more seriously. Your argument essentially suggests that the only alternative to authoritarianism is letter-writing.

As for what "I" would do -- it depends entirely on a host of factors you haven't given me. Who? Where? What's the evidence? What's the risk to us? What would the collateral damage be?

Drones may be more "precise" at the outset, but they are also much more likely to be used in civilian areas. The fact that they are remote controlled also means they could be more easily abused than troop deployments, so there should be higher standards of review to counter that. Also, they are extremely frightening to people who must live with them motoring overhead, which needs to be considered in the blowback department. In fact, this is already known to be causing problems. No need to be an absolutist here -- just need to look at it from all angles.

Larry Hart:

You too are casting this in absurd extremes. It saddens me that so many "pragmatists" has internalized a fundamentally authoritarian mindset. I never once suggested I would vote for Republicans to "punish" anybody. And I would not ever do so.

What I said was that I live in a state (remember Ye Olde Electoral College?) which will go for Obama regardless. Now, I have only one vote, and I want to make the most of it. I can join the anonymous Blue Blob to absolutely no effect on outcomes whatsoever, or I can lend my support to a third party (there are a few not entirely stupid options) which has voiced opposition to the aspects of current democratic SOP which I object to as well. While this while hardly bring the guillotines to the palace, it is nonetheless slightly less pointless than joining a mob. It puts "information" out there into the marketplace of ideas. This is in no way working for a Republican or "axis" victory, not pragmatically, or in any other way.

The social contract of our democracy does not require that I chose only between one of two parties. There are other options. When did this stop being a good thing?

Ian Gould said...

Andrew, I'm referring to the one and only instance of a drone attacking being used to kill an American citizen: Anwar Al Awlaki.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwar_al-Awlaki

But if you want to talk hypotheticals assume that Osama Bin Laden had been born in the United States while his parents were visited the country) assume all other known facts about Bin Laden remain exactly the same.

How should Bin Laden have been terated differently?

Paul451 said...

Andrew,
"Your evolutionary example is cute, but too obvious."

So obvious that you missed the point.

"Of course, change is incremental. [the democrats] have not expressed the kind of long-term agenda that the gop has kept to with considerable discipline over the decades. [...] You can't move in a particular direction if you don't [i]have[/i] one. And the party has defined no such direction."

[sigh] The evolutionary strategy is not one for the Democratic Party to use, it's the one for you to use on them. A breeding herd has no "direction" except the one imposed by the farmer. The GOP has no "discipline", no direction; didn't you see that cat fight of a primary? The discipline and direction have been imposed from outside.

You (jokingly?) suggest voting Romney as a "protest", as if such a protest will push the Democrats away from the right?

You want responsible Democrats, you vote for the best of the current batch who are electable. Even if you despise them, you hold your nose and you vote for those with the most characteristics you want who are electable. And then you do it again, and again, for decades.

But no, instead you'll vote for an unelectable third party, or an unelectable Democrat, or even for the other side as a "protest". And that is a pretty typical reaction, and the reason why the left can't do what the right does.

It's not "the Democrats" that need discipline, it's you.

Paul451 said...

Ian,
"How should Bin Laden have been terated differently?"

On high for ten minutes?

Typos aside, and although it was a legal fiction, theoretically Bin Laden died while being arrested. The only addition I would want is for the arrest to be warranted, rather than purely an executive decision.

To order a drone-strike against an enemy non-combatant, like Anwar Al Awlak, I would need him to be tried in-absentia and sentenced to death for treason or conspiracy or whatever the crime is for an American aiding a declared enemy. Combatants and commanders, otoh, are fair targets for drone strikes, provided the rules of war are respected.

That said, during a conventional war it is considered perfectly acceptable to bomb or sabotage your enemy's means of production and transport, even if also that means the deaths of civilians working in, say, an armament factory. What's the terrorist equivalent of a factory, refinery, bridge...?

Andrew,
Meant to add: If you want to be able to vote for a third party, you first need a system that prevents a third party from merely dividing your faction's vote. It's pointless voting for a third party before you get electoral reform. So your first target is to vote for electable candidates who are most tolerant of electoral reform. Then push the argument, the party, and your state towards that reform. Once you get that through, you can concentrate on using that new ability to introduce issue-candidates that push the arguments, and hence the major parties, towards your agenda.

Ian Gould said...

"That said, during a conventional war it is considered perfectly acceptable to bomb or sabotage your enemy's means of production and transport, even if also that means the deaths of civilians working in, say, an armament factory. What's the terrorist equivalent of a factory, refinery, bridge...?"

and no-one cries "due process" regarding the tens of thousands of American citizens and Iraqi/American dual citizens who were in Iraq at the onset of the Gulf War or the thousands of American citizens in Gaza at any given time or about Furkan Do─čan, the American citizen killed by the IDF during their attack on the Gaza flotilla.

Ian Gould said...

This will likely be all over the media shortly: a company called Mars One claims they'll send a human mission to Mars by 2023.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2154336/New-Mars-One-mission-aims-establish-human-colony-Red-Planet-2023.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

They're going with the Mars To stay idea: it's planned as a one-way mission to start the establishment of what will be permanent Mars colony.

Andrew S. Taylor said...

Ian:

Al-Awlaki was never even indicted -- much less found guilty -- of doing anything other than making incendiary speeches. And he was not in a war zone.

I ask you again, are you cool with the president being able to order the death of anyone, anywhere in the world, even an American citizen, for simply giving vocal support to an anti-American cause...with nothing more than secretive internal review in the executive branch? The constitution has never been stretched so far before.

OBL should have been put on trial, just as Saddam Hussein was when captured in Iraq. And Hussein had far more blood on his hands than OBL.

Paul,

No, I got it the first time. And I've clarified several times now that I would not vote for Romney, and had not said that. My initial post was admittedly unclear, but what I was trying to indicate there was that I saw no point in voting for Romney because he voiced no opposition to the policy.

Furthermore, you make my point for me. The GOP's discipline is imposed on it by the voters, and the causes they vocally support. And one of the ways they do that is by the threat of defection. Tea Party. You may have heard of it. In fact, the threat of dissatisfaction with the party by much of the right has been very effective at pulling the party over the past two decades. They gives voice to the Pauls and Buchanans and there is mass investment in such right-leaning protest groups.

OWS is the only equivalent on the democratic side, but they are not as numerous and are treated much differently by the media. There is no serious counterpoint to the right's pseudo-intellectual ammo.

Electability? Ron Paul isn't electable but he's had an influence on his party. Perot wasn't electable but he influenced the outcome of an election (as well as what got debated in the months running up to it, a factor which you completely overlook). Third parties and outcasts can put issues "on the table." The right has been doing it for decades -- is in fact more tolerant of this than the left is, which is one reason for their advantage. Democrats (voters and politicians along with the "liberal" media) however are terrified of upstarts, and demonstrate a pathetic slavishness when called upon to crush dissenting upstarts like Nader, Kucinich, etc.

Why should I confine myself to your immensely narrow view of how to make the best use of my vote?
'Electoral reform" is not going to happen here for a very long time. Obama is not discussing it. What do I do in the meantime? I make the best use of my vote, obviously. If a pro-liberty or pro-left third party gets 2% of the vote in my state rather than 1%, that is a much more important accomplishment than simply joining my state in its foregone electoral vote.

I've been voting for Democrats for 20 years. The party has continued to get dragged to the right. It happened this time because, far from embracing a "civil war" Obama wanted to be a great conciliator. He said so from the beginning. The right has played him like a harp.

Robert said...

Sorry to go off on a non-politics tangent, but I just saw this on Wikipedia and thought it was rather cool: underwater gliders designed for tracking marine mammals and diesel submarines. They're designed to be difficult to detect with passive sonar, though I suspect dolphins and whales will sense them easily enough (and probably find them amusing and play "tag" with them to see what happens).

No doubt they'll be put to use to track the semi-submersible drug runner submarines that have been appearing in greater numbers over the past decade... which may very well result in the arming of those submarines to destroy them when detected, or sink coast guard cutters when intercepted. It's the logical next step in the War on Drugs - it's so profitable for the drug czars that they WILL turn it into a war.

Sorry. Brief tangent there. I'll leave off with the amused mental image of dolphins playing with an underwater glider and seeing if they can tip it and the like. ^^;;

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Andrew S Taylor:

You too are casting this in absurd extremes. It saddens me that so many "pragmatists" has internalized a fundamentally authoritarian mindset.


Moi? :)

I don't like unchecked executive power. I just think the Republicans are more inclined to abuse it. I am totally unhappy that Obama doesn't unilaterally reverse the trend, but he didn't start it, and he seems inclined to impose more self-restraint on its usage than do his Republican opponents. I will vote for Obama for other reasons, in spite of his continuation of Bush-era executive power-grabs, not because of them.


I never once suggested I would vote for Republicans to "punish" anybody.


Mea culpa then, but I thought that's what you were saying.


What I said was that I live in a state (remember Ye Olde Electoral College?) which will go for Obama regardless.


Well, you said that later. I didn't have that information all along.

During the 2008 election, my dad was in a nursing home, and my mom was helping him vote absentee. My mom, who I never heard express a political opinion in her life, surprised me by profusely apologizing for going ahead with Dad's insistence on voting for McCain/Palin. I told her not to worry about it--that she did the right thing, and that Dad wasn't going to flip Illinois.


The social contract of our democracy does not require that I chose only between one of two parties. There are other options. When did this stop being a good thing?


I'm inclined to say "When the Republicans went insane." But I also undrstand your point, and sympathize in a "If only 'twere different" sort of way.

Robert said...

Larry, I hope you told your mother you were proud of her for not abusing her power and changing his vote. (Unless she was apologizing because she also voted that way, but still the point stands.) It is entirely too easy for someone to abuse their power in absentee voting for someone unable to get their vote out themselves because of age, infirmity, or disability, and I'm sure it happens. To see someone willing to allow someone else's vote get out, even when it is in opposition to their own point of view, is a damn fine thing and shows that Democracy does work.

Rob H.

Andrew S. Taylor said...

Larry, If I were in a close-call state, I would vote for Obama.

LarryHart said...

Many quick responses...

Andrew,

See, we're not nearly as far apart as it seemed.

Tacitus2,

I'm not an apologist for the deficiencies of the Illinois legislature. Just remember, the US House of Representatives is equally deficient at fulfilling their tasks, and that's the Republicans doing it. What I wish, in both cases, is that there was a political price to pay for nonfeasance of office. Instead, it's practically the opposite (see Richard Lugar).

Robert,

Agreed...my mom was a saint as regards to caregiving for my dad the last several years of his life. And no, she wasn't voting GOP herself, although until that year, it wouldn't have surprised me one way or another--she had never ventured into politics in front of me before. She was apologizing for not interfering with his vote, which I agree was the right thing to do. Of course, it helped salve my conscience that Obama's home state wasn't going to vote against him no matter what.

Robert said...

Yes, she was. My folks went through something similar with my paternal grandmother. However, I feel that it would be better to allow Republicans to regain the Presidency and the other two branches of government and ruin this nation than to use voter fraud to prevent them from getting into office. Ultimately, democracy is about the choice of the majority of voters. In 2010 they chose Republicans for the House. This has harmed the nation... but it was still the choice of the majority. And what's more, it also caused the Republican party to start to shatter... while revealing to voters just what they were voting for.

If voters truly want this? Then I will live with their decision. If we learn afterward that Republicans have used voter fraud to get into office? Then we can paint them as unAmerican and anti-democracy. These are labels that they will not quickly shed because the right to vote is integral to the American consciousness, and learning that Republicans denied the voting rights of American citizens would turn all but the most die-hard of neocons against them, especially if Democrats actually had the balls to use this theoretical information against Republicans.

Rob H.

rewinn said...

Politically, I must take issue with the learned @Tacitus2's contention that the issues in WI are different from those in WA. While the details differ, it is still the same battle between the Aristocracy and the Peasants, each having its valid points and its heroes, but each having fundamentally opposed visions as to the the ideal: the Aristocracy likes pyramids, the Peasants likes plains.

WI/June is the practice round for USA/November, and the essential battle is the Aristocracy's Air War vs the peasants' Ground War: can the moneyed interest win with media buys; can the peasantry win with direct democracy?

I don't know. I don't think anyone does. The lesson learned so far is that a 10-for-1 money advantage is giving the Aristocracy only a slight edge in the polls, and in November it's not going to have such a lead. OTOH in WI the peasantry is highly organized, which is not true in the USA generally.

Forsan et haec olim meminesse iuvabit - some day we will look back at all this and laugh - although it's not clear whether it will be because we weathered the storm and can be relaxed about hardships past, or because things are so rotten that today seems like Paradise.

Meanwhile: my electric meter is running backwards as American-made solar cells do their thing, and tomorrow I have an engineer coming over to plan installing a cistern. I am fortunate enough to have bought on a hill with runoff issues sufficiently serious that the local utility will share the cost of water control; to them the cistern will abate a problem, to me it will cut my watering bill enormously. And the whole project is practical for me because local credit unions are looking hard at local investments into which to plop the money depositors moved out of banks. If you did your energy efficiency calculations a couple years back and they didn't pencil out, I urge y'all to take another look.

P.S. The One-Way Mars Trip could be done by willing anchorites. Why not? Mars would be a great place to meditate on the stars without interference by modernity, e.g. overflying 747s. The Vatican has a great many faults but it seems to enjoy astronomy these days, and Cardinal Law really needs a more appropriate retirement home.

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart
In Illinois rascality is fairly bipartisan. I suspect there is a "Joliet Republican Club" and a corresponding Dem one! OK, more likely in a posh Fed.prison.
But as I see it, Governor Walker is being punished for perceived sins of commission that will impact (some of) us. The IL legislature is being rewarded for sins of omission that will beggar our children.
I am focusing on State level solutions right now, I see some hope there.
Tacitus@

Robert said...

Not to be a pessimist but... to take a pessimistic view, the problem with One-Way colonization attempts for Mars is that if something goes south, it's going to be even more detrimental than when early American colonies failed. The colonization of the New World didn't have such things as near-immediate communication lines or televised viewing of the disasters in progress. But if a One-Way Colony on Mars is unable to establish itself and people die over there... you'll see a pushback by people insisting we shelve the Space Program and at the same time disallow colonization of other worlds by private industry.

In short, if we're going to establish colonies on other worlds, it's going to initially be via remote robots building facilities and perhaps sending animals to be the initial colonists to ensure the facilities operate effectively. Anything else would be so dangerous so to make deaths a likelihood, and space colonization will then suffer a setback and not commence for decades.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, if the GOP declared "we will allow investigations of trillion dollar frauds on our watch and stop declaring Supply Side voodoo and allow government to function and stop waging war on science and start negotiating in good faith about energy/climate solutions and end gerrymandering...

...if you democrats agree to curb public employee unions and make teachers easier to fire for incompetence...

...then I would run into the street naked, dancing Eureka! Tell me what else you want on the table!

Seriously. You conservatives could have had all of that by negotiation. Instead of debilitating, demoralizing and treasonous culture war.

Moreover, you know it is true.

---

Andrew I reiterate. The American political center needs to be pulled in your direction. When Obama represents what he SHOULD represent... the middle right of the American spectrum, then you folks could fight him over these issues via normal politics.

Look at it that way. If the fevered right is forced, by overwhelming, crushing defeat, to wake up, then the entire center will shift and you can fight your fight.

Otherwise, stop whining. ANYTHING that you do that helps that fever to continue betrays all that you believe in.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

In Illinois rascality is fairly bipartisan. I suspect there is a "Joliet Republican Club" and a corresponding Dem one!


Illinois seems like such a solid blue state that it is easy to forget it took the scandals surrounding Blago's predecessor, George Ryan to make it so. For mucn of the 1990s, the governor and both State Houses were Republican (though the Chicago Democrats always had a certain amount of influence).


But as I see it, Governor Walker is being punished for perceived sins of commission that will impact (some of) us. The IL legislature is being rewarded for sins of omission that will beggar our children.


Governor Quinn almost lost reelection, and I think he owes his win to his apparent weakness and ineptitude. After several recent scandals out of the Governor's office, I think that "unable to get anything done" looks good to the voters.

Governor Walker is being punished by his electorate for much the same reason the national Democrats were punished in 2010 and President Obama may be this year: "You campaigned on one platform and then governed quite differently!" People don't like to be played for fools.

dmon said...

Dr Brin, I have to share this link about persistence hunting. I feel like I just read that chapter about Robert Oneagle again...

Tacitus2 said...

"Moreover, you know it is true."

Slightly impolite.

"treasonous culture war."

More so.

I have a thick hide, and some would argue a thick cranium to go with it. But the passion of progressives is offputting. It is why you get so few perceptive conservatives coming around to spar with.

ReWinn
Oddly, in WI the public employees are to some extent the aristocrats. Or at a minimum a Squireocracy. Back in my small businessman days we were ecstatic to hire spouses of public employees...they came with their own benefit package we did not need to, nor could, ever hope to match! Advantages in employability for family members is only one small example of how good it was to be working for the government. Still is, as I mentioned regards my son's bennie package. But to be clear, I have no animus towards public employee union members. Their organizations and leaders are in my eyes corrupt. FDR and George Meany nod agreement from the Great Beyond.

Wisconsin issues are not identical to issues everywhere else, but there are similarities. And in terms of size, polical party distribution, mix of economies...Wisconsin is just about the median for all US states. As we are so typical, our issues have some wider applicability.

Oh, btw, the money being spent here is about evenly divided although Walker et al have been doing more of late.

This is what a Republic looks like...

Tacitus2

ps, sweet home energy project. your avatar is grinning a little.

Ian said...

More fun rom China:

The Chinese government censors references to the Tiananmen protests. Amongst the terms they censor from internet posts is "6489" - June 4th, 1989.

Yesterday the Shanghai Stock Exxchange's composite Index fell 64.89 points leading the automated filters on interent coverage to block market reports.

(In less surreal and more ecnouraging news, both the families of the murdered demonstrators and former government officials are starting to speak out about the "events" and demand the government apologize and admit its errors.

David Brin said...

Tacitus,
Dang... you know I don't mean you re "treasonous culture war." So why interpret it that way? It is inarguable that some on both left and right do not feel the slightest loyalty to the Enlightenment experiment from which they benefited. No one would call you a culture warrior. And for me to call culture war "treason" is (I admit) both "passionate" and absolutely on target.

I consider you calling me a "progressive" similarly off-putting. You'll hardly find a single case, anywhere, of me basing my anti-GOP rhetoris on classic democratic issues. Go ahead and find an example! There are some. But nearly all of my complaints have been from the perspective of (in fact) a rather libertarian-minded acolyte of Adam Smith.

If you look at 6000 years of history and recognize the same enemy of freedom that Smith did, then that enemy has to be opposed... for the sake of capitalism, freedom, enterprise and markets.

As for off-putting, well, you are a big boy and you hold your own and we constantly tell you how appreciated you are. Hence, the problem with so few "perceptive conservatives" coming around here is NOT how passionate I get.

It is the fact that you are a rare beast.

---
Let me reiterate. Were there still a negotiating table in America, I would shock you with how far I would be willing to go, pushing changes in entitlements, public employee benefits and teacher discipline. All of these could have been tackled by the do-nothing Congress of 2001-2007. ALl have repeatedly been offered on the table by democrats, in return for an end to insanity.

The unions serve as a great rallying boogeyman, despite 50 years of declining influence. Look THERE! Never at the oligarchy.

Andrew S. Taylor said...

DB, you said:

"The American political center needs to be pulled in your direction. When Obama represents what he SHOULD represent... the middle right of the American spectrum, then you folks could fight him over these issues via normal politics.

Look at it that way. If the fevered right is forced, by overwhelming, crushing defeat, to wake up, then the entire center will shift and you can fight your fight."

...which is EXACTLY what I've been saying all along.
...and suggesting that the best way to pull the party to the center is to register discontent from the left...
...which is EXACTLY how the right pulls the republican party in its direction...that is by defaulting to the far right of the party or to alternate parties...
...and to compound the irony, I'm the only person involved this discussion who isn't" whining," but discussing substance and action, while you, and various of your other followers, register outrage and contempt that I would dare vote for the libertarians or the green party or whomever in a state where Obama enjoys a more than 20-point lead (this being NY)
...what does the man need from me? My karma? The force? He's not getting it. Deal.

Perhaps you are forgetting that sooner or later there is going to be another Republican president, inevitably, and the precedents set by Obama now will be lying around for the next guy to use. And the next, and the next.

There's always this mad hysterical scramble to get a Democrat in the white "or else," and then once he's in everyone goes home, orders take-out, and watches HBO. Then they wake up three years later and it" "oh, jeez, what happened?"

Republicans voters are not going home and watching HBO. They are making sure that those they elect remain frightened of their wrath. That's why they're beating us.

Rob said...

Seen objectively, "40 million uninsured!" is still a far preferable condition than "2000 dead today with 2 million displaced!"

Let's not make a mockery of war. Even if what we have today is more or less confrontational, bullets aren't flying. It's not a war.

infanttyrone said...

Look THERE! Never at the oligarchy.

According to this nugget, the emperors were sporting underwear...
the better to guard against the ravages of the heat-death of the universe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trcUimJzv3Y&feature=related

One for rewinn:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCDZCE5vnvg

rewinn said...

@dmon's link to an article about persistence hunting lead to this delight quote:
"...they carved out a new carnivore niche: the hot-day meat chaser...."

... I now thoroughly understand the barbeque as a ritual celebration of our origins.

@Tactius

"...Squirocracy..."
My friend, you are referring to what used to be called the Middle Class: people who worked for a living, but were sufficiently well-off that they had leisure time with which to participate in civil affairs.


The Aristocracy is not the Unions (save perhaps the top bosses.) The Aristocracy are those who as a class need not labor at all, and yet control the direction of civil affairs. This can lead to some very useful fellows, but too easily degenerates into a class of looters.

It saddens me that the defenders of the Aristocracy deploy envy of a decent middle-class life style, as if it is somehow unfair that any American, whether public servant or private sector worker, should have decent lifestyle. As the great Republidan Teddy Roosevelt said:
"...Wages are subnormal if they fail to provide a living for those who devote their time and energy to industrial occupations. The monetary equivalent of a living wage varies according to local conditions, but must include enough to secure the elements of a normal standard of living--a standard high enough to make morality possible, to provide for education and recreation, to care for immature members of the family, to maintain the family during periods of sickness, and to permit of reasonable saving for old age."

"..., the money being spent here is about evenly divided..."
Sir, that is not so. Walker's spending about $30 million. Bennet's spending about $4 million. The other $28 million is mostly for Walker. Look at the TV ad buys and the direct mail if you want to see what's up. But of course this has nothing to do with the *merits* of the argument, merely with the *tactics* being employed. I am confident that the generals in both parties are keeping close track and will adjust tactics this fall accordingly.


"...ps, sweet home energy project. your avatar is grinning a little."
Thank you. Guilty as charged! I hope my good fortune may encourage others to give it a try.

infanttyrone said...

@Andrew Taylor

No whining here.

I'm happy to be considered Progressive under most analytical rubrics, and I salute your plan to vote for someone to the left of the current Democratic eunuchs.

I'm skeptical about our being allowed real options by the money behind the Majors, so voting for a 3rd party in a state that is effectively uncontested is one of the few actions of consequence you can take with your single vote.

Don't let the ghost of your dead Civics teacher haunt you with fictions of how guilty you might feel if Romney won NY by a single vote. Nice movie idea...ain't gonna happen..

The Hicks version
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrjWALYlH0A

The Carlin version
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1vFO-2Q&list=FLbXK5JLR1fZL-WIzoKtGYFQ&index=23&feature=plpp_video

For any lurking "blame it on the underqualified borrowers" folks:

Short of that, notes Prins, if the crisis were really about people buying McMansions that they couldn’t afford, “we could have solved it much more cheaply in a couple of days in late 2008, by simply providing borrowers with additional capital to reduce their loan principals. It would have cost about 3 percent of what the entire bailout wound up costing, with comparatively similar risk.”

Don't reply to me...respond to the former managing director of Goldman Sachs who wrote that.

Tom Craver said...

Mars One doesn't seem to have a realistic financing plan. The "reality show" approach is only sustainable by focusing on the human element, and they plan to spend 10 years mostly deploying equipment! Big sponsors are needed, and they'll only stick with it if the masses are rabidly interested.

They should put humans at Phobos L1 orbit early on, with ability to return home if sufficient financing can't be worked out for the equipment they need to continue. Create pressure for Earth fan support!

With that approach, they could easily squeeze out 10+ years of Mars Reality Show - each covering a different HUMAN phase of operations, plus a geeked-out show delving into the building and testing of equipment for Mars. Humans landing on Mars would happen around year 8.

Robert said...

Actually, Andrew, I believe that if the Republican Party is unable to win the Presidency in 2012, they will lose the ability to win the Presidency unless the Democrats put forward another John Kerry. They are fighting against time and demographic change. They are recruiting fewer and fewer young people, they are alienating the fastest growing demographic (Latinos), and their voting block is growing old and dying off.

In short, Republicans have to evolve or die. But their evolutionary pattern has shown a shift to their radical right... which is not viable for survival in an era of political climate change which will make the radical right that alienates growing potential majorities into a dead end path.

If Obama had pushed for greater stimulus and had succeeded in pushing down unemployment to eight percent by 2010, then Republicans would not have made the gains in Congress that they had. Republican politicians succeeded because they blocked every attempt to legislate and fix the problems neocon Republican leadership caused. The economic climate will likely be improved enough by 2016 that people won't let the economy drive their voting habits.

What's left? Abortion? Health care? Immigration? Gay marriage? Each of these alienates a sizable base and would damage Republican efforts.

Romney is the Republicans Last Best Hope. It's tragic when you really consider what Romney is.

Rob H.

Andrew S. Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew S. Taylor said...

Robert,

I agree with your assessment of the demographic changes which are coming -- though I'm sure both parties will adapt to them. Republicans will modernize, which will be a good thing.

On social issues, I'm optimistic that certain lifestyle freedoms will continue to expand, which I completely endorse.

What I'm concerned about is that neither party is really taking responsible care of our social pillars -- banks, schools, bridges, news media, and health. You mention health care reform. We could have the best health care system on the planet, and its still going to be a disaster if our appalling dietary trends continue. Epidemic diabetes could bankrupt us.

Romney is a lousy candidate and the party knows it. I wouldn't call it a death knell though. He's a placeholder, like Dole in 1996.

I'm looking forward to watching the presidential debates between the Harvard Law graduate who spearheaded a controversial health-care reform and reversed course on many of his previously espoused views when they became politically inconvenient, and the Harvard Law graduate who spearheaded a controversial health-care reform and reversed course on many of his previously espoused views when they became politically inconvenient. It's gonna be a real sizzler.

David Brin said...

I just read a brilliant suggestion by economist Gregory Whedon. Instead of the Greeks leaving the eurozone and recreating the Drachma, amid horrid ructions, bank runs and general financial ruin... till their devaluation finally created enough jobs. Instead of that... let GERMANY leave the Eurozone and remake the Deutsche Mark! It will be rock solid and climb in value. And the rest of the eurozone can float-drift into a monetized soft landing and general devaluation.

What a concept. Moreover, Whedon must not be alone! So much money out there is chasing German bonds that they are now offered at ZERO percent interest. zero. And some Swiss bonds are NEGATIVE!!! You only get buyers if they are hedging against major currency changes.

=

Sorry, Andrew, you claim to get my point but you absolutely do not get it and you repeatedly try to paraphrase (the adult thing to do! ;-) what I did NOT say.

You do not want to pull Obama toward the center. You want Obama to crush the crazy right so that he becomes a right that you can oppose with normal politics.

"Perhaps you are forgetting that sooner or later there is going to be another Republican president, inevitably, and the precedents set by Obama now will be lying around for the next guy to use. And the next, and the next."

Which is why the only solution is to crush the madness. Period. Seriously. You are screaming at a guy who is leaning a bit right in order to keep the door closed against an army of zombies. You want to drag him to the left?

I am not frightened of the zombies' wrath. I simply want to end this phase of the American civil war by crushing an outbreak of insanity so that conservatism can snap out of it and rejoin us at the negotiating table. Nothing else in American politics matters.

David Brin said...

Tacitus... note... we have a lefty present and we are giving him just as hard a time as we give you!

And yet we argue with him (and you) with respect. You are both wrong... but great guys with solid principles, who like to think...

;-)

Andrew S. Taylor said...

DB,

In analyzing the way you frame the problem, I perhaps missed the importance you place on the term "normal politics." If I understand you correctly, you see the present situation as categorically different from "normal politics." Hence, your two-step approach.

David Brin said...

That is correct Andrew. We are in what I call "phase three of the American Civil War." One third + of our countrymen have been talked into considering science and every other knowledge profession to be evil. Their freely elected government is evil. The occupants of blue cities are evil.

It is precisely the same mania that caused a million poor white southerners to march off to battle in 1861 against their own interests, to protect the privileges of the southern slave-holding aristocracy.

After opening America's veins to the tune of 5 TRILLION dollars, that aristocracy now wants back in power to do it again. This is not about classic right -vs-left. And you lefties need to grasp that.

If we win this phase, then guys like Tacitus will make a re-awakened American "right" and I will side with them on some issues and we'll negotiate and you will holler at Obama and it will be great fun.

But so long as one side insanely insist that they would rather see America fail than let the president get credit for any successes, then we have a self-proclaimed enemy within our state. His name is Rupert Murdoch.