Saturday, February 16, 2013

From Glass-shattering Asteroids to Transparency...

imagesYesterday morning I was diverted to serve a stint as astronomy pundit - on BBC - regarding or planet's double encounter with asteroids.  Wow.  As one asteroid about 50 meters across zipped by earth, closer even than our communication satellites, another (probably just ten meters in size) gave up more energy than an atomic bomb … gradually, thank heavens, but right over a city in the Russian Urals... briefly outshining the sun and shattering hundreds of windows.  My job on-air was to reassure that there would be no dangerous radiation… that in fact, bolides like this one seem to strike our planet once or twice a decade or so, but always till now over open ocean or deserts or countryside. (In the 1970s one such event, off Japan, almost triggered a rise in DEFCON alert level at the US NORAD!)

LATE UPDATE: It appears to have been a swarm, as much smaller fireball-entries were reported near San Francisco and Cuba

I mentioned that asteroids appear less fearsome than they were twenty years ago. Since then, we've catalogued all of those near the size of the one that finished off the dinosaurs, at least those that might ever pass near us.  (Including one listed as 5748 davidbrin.) But down at the 50 meter (Meteor Crater) or 5-meter (atomic bomb) range?  Well, that's for another generation of NASA spacecraft to find for us.

Anyway, we still aren't "safe."  Comets (my area of scientific expertise) could swoop down from almost any direction, almost any time.  So let's become more capable of living and working out there!  Our proper path is vigorously forward.

I also mentioned Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, companies looking into ways to harvest vast wealth from asteroids.  Of course that quest is described both in my new novel Existence and in detail in Heart of the Comet.

All told, an exciting day… though I feel for the folks in Chelyabinsk.  Most of the 1000 injuries happened because people rushed to windows to gawk at the spectacle... then a shock wave hit, shattering the windows.  Folks are probably very cold in Chelyabinsk tonight.  Hey, it's winter in Russia.

We should send a cargo plane of plywood and another of window glass.  In exchange for some chunks. Lovely scientific chunks.

How does this relate to transparency? Beyond the window glass metaphor? Interestingly, the large number of videos that captured this rare cosmic event came about due to "an epidemic of road mayhem" across Russia. Automobile video dashcams are commonplace in Russia -- used to document the all-too-frequent driving accidents and incidents of road rage ...or to record inept (or corrupt) police officers.  Of course, this is precisely from one section of The Transparent Society and from Earth.

== More from the Transparency Front ==

Face recognition systems have been long-expected... and are now arriving in droves. Authorities will soon be able to pick  almost any person out of a transient crowd... as I have depicted in novels going back to EARTH (1989).  This article is a good review of the technology companies in this field and where they stand... but the sub-surface preachy tone is unhelpful, because it implies there is a scintilla of possibility that anything can prevent society's elites from using these techniques.  Or that we should even complain.  There is one option, one way to prevent this from turning into Big Brother and it is not to panic or try futilely to "ban" it. The only thing that can work is to grab it for everybody. Get used to being gods who can see and recognize anybody... and use it to force accountability upon the mighty.

mecam_01MeCam may soon be on the market for $49: a tiny helicopter-camera follows you around and streams video to your phone. Aya-tollyah so.

Japanese activists have invented a pair of high-tech glasses that emit a near infrared light to block face recognition cameras. It was their goal to counter what they call the “invasion of privacy caused by photographs taken in secret. Uh huh.  That's gonna work for about a year.

A few months ago, the startup tech firm Silent Circle (Global Encrypted Communications Service) introduced  a “surveillance-proof” smartphone app to allow people to make secure phone calls and send texts easily. Now, Silent Circle has come out with a groundbreaking encrypted data transfer app that will enable people to send files securely from a smartphone or tablet at the touch of a button. Now... I am all in favor of empowerment of the lowly individual!  Anyone who reads The Transparent Society knows that. Still, for twenty years I have pointed out the foolishness of over-reliance on encryption.  The mighty have methods going back 4000 years. And it is simple to bribe or blackmail or coerce  or steal back door keys.  This endeavor might be one of the few that the NSA does not "own."  In that case, huzzah.  Just don't stake your life on it.

In China, Beware a camera may be watching you. NPR reports: "In recent years, the government of the world's biggest country has installed more than 20 million cameras across a country where a decade ago there weren't many."  Actually, that number surprises me by seeming on the low side. An interesting article showing how difficult it is to maintain high ideals, when tempted by modern tools.

DARPA workers want tomorrow’s military hardware to literally cease to exist at a predetermined point... to self destruct. "Welcome to the age of suicidal sensors.... Sometimes the hardware will be pre-programmed to self-destruct. Other times a human should be able to step in and signal to the device that the cold grasp of oblivion beckons."  In fact, this has been a priority topic for many years.  Why do you think airliners haven't been tumbling from the sky, shot down by shoulder-mounted missiles from back when the US supported radical guerillas fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.  Can anyone doubt that, when their ire turned westward, militants found that the electronics failed to work anymore?  It is so nice to know some one was competent out there.  Thanks, whoever you were.

FarelySpidersOr take the Unattended Ground Sensor, a monitoring device designed to look like a rock and recharge with a solar battery, to collect and transmit data on a warzone for decades after most U.S. troops there have packed up and gone home. From descriptions, this item seems a lot like devices I portray in Existence and that Patrick Farley showed a decade ago, in his epochal web comic "Spiders."

Stop and Frisk Watch” is a free smart phone ap that empowers New Yorkers to monitor police activity and -- according to the NYCLU "hold the NYPD accountable for unlawful stop-and-frisk encounters and other police misconduct." Now mind you, I am an extreme radical against any moves by the police to arrest or restrict citizens' rights to record encounters with authority. Recent court cases have upheld our right to defend ourselves against abuse of authority with the only recourse we can ever count on -- The Truth.

Having said that, let me add that nothing is gained by using this right in an aggressive, in-yer-face style and attitude.  90% of cops are decent, hardworking and unbelievably brave folks who are trying hard to help transition a job that used to be officially sanctioned thuggery into a supremely skilled, accountable and reliable profession. They are doing this while saddled with human hormonal systems more appropriate to caveman days, while wiping spittle off their faces from crazed idiots they must deal with daily.  Come on, guys.  Record it... but with courtesy. It's what you want from them.

== Other Notes ==

In 2012 I attended (remotely) the Humanity+ conference near San Francisco and gave a talk that is now posted online: "The Rise of Science Renunciation." The sound is tinny, but the ideas flow rich and fast. How do we talk our fellow citizens against supporting the rise of a new Dark Age?  How do we get them not to burn us at the stake?  Practical advice for those pushing the Rapid Agenda.

DC Comics Under Fire for Hiring Anti-Gay Author Orson Scott Card to Write Superman. In a somewhat openly partial article in WIRED, Graeme McMillan joins a chorus of protest over my colleague's ever-increasingly strident declamations against the LGBT community. Last summer, I had a brief tiff with Scott Card at the San Diego Comicon where OSC went on and on about the hopelessness of human civilization and our inevitable imminent demise, till I finally (and publicly, though politely) had enough.  Seriously, this tempts me to  finally post the rebuttal-essay I once wrote (then put away) after reading Scott's stunning denunciation of democracy and civilization in his afterword to EMPIRE.

At another level though, let me say I am not surprised or particularly upset about Orson Scot Card writing a Superman series.  Putting aside the LGBT thing for now, this gig is an absolute natural fit for him! Almost all of Card's fiction deals with demigods of one sort or another.  Protagonists who are vastly better, stronger, wiser than benighted, foolish humanity... and especially the author's fellow citizens. This makes for a lusciously attractive wish fantasy that seduces pre-pubescent and adolescent males of all ages. ("Someday I'll get my Powers and then you'll see, all of you!") It is classic romanticism, going back to Achilles on the plains of Illium, and I have seen it done with more outrageous vileness by others, such as Frank Miller.

Mind you, my views about this colleague are mixed, and while I think Scott has gone around a right-wing bend, I utterly despise the horrifically simplistic hatchetings that he's received from rage junkies like this one, an insipidly unprofessional backstabbing that only elicited sympathy for Card. Indeed, in Scott's defense - (and keeping things literary) - let me say that Card's arrogant demigod characters are more interesting that most Nietzschean ubermensch "heroes."  While fiercely clamping down and taking control, they also exhibit angst, regret, and bemoan the insipid shallowness of the sheeplike masses they must protect.  In fact, they spend so much time and energy moaning, while over-ruling democracy and imposing their will "for your own good" that at least we get one satisfaction. They aren't enjoying it.  I look forward to seeing how Scott conveys this angst-ridden ferocity with the greatest demigod of them all.

Speaking of which... Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120 million to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change.  Yawn.  It is openly admitted on the right that the anti-science campaign is financed by Big Coal and Big (foreign) Oil.  The real difficulty arises when our neighbors and crazy uncles respond that the "other side is worse!" Proclaiming that liberals are similarly polemical and illogical and oligarchy-driven. Alas, they are never specific. Um, how about some details? We all know how the Koch brothers and desert sheiks benefit by delaying solutions to climate change.  But who, exactly, is pushing the "global warming myth"?

Big… er, um… Big Efficiency?  I'd love to see how that is spelled-out.

WealthNationsThe mythology is insidious.  Especially to a guy like me, who does not consider himself to be a leftist or democrat or even a classic liberal... but rather a style of competitive libertarian.  What am I then to make of Rand Paul's reply to SOTU (President Obama's State of the Union Address)? Alas, Paul - a the latest darling of the Tea Party - is part of the new tradition of fabulating history with a concoction of true statements. For example:  "What America needs is not Robin Hood but Adam Smith. In the year we won our independence, Adam Smith described what creates the Wealth of Nations."

Hm, well, it happens that I agree with that sentence!  But Sen. Paul goes on to promote the fabulous notion that the American Revolution and Adam Smith both saw "government bureaucrats" as the chief problem stifling freedom and enterprise, and that is pure malarkey.  Sighing, let me once again ask you to name - across 6000 years - the eras of bright promise that were spoilt by meddlesome civil servants.  There were some!  And I favor smaller government when possible.  But pick dates and locations at random, and 99% of the time freedom and markets were ruined by conniving inherited oligarchy.  Like King George and his lords.  The ones Smith despised as the enemies of capitalist competition and the foes the American rebelled against. Inheritance aristocracy is THE great enemy of capitalism and always has been.  And any "libertarian" who ignores that blatant historical fact is no true libertarian.  He is a shill for the enemy.

Phew... and settling down a bit...  Here's a cool example of re-apportionment.  How the 50 US states would look if the states were all redrawn to contain equal populations, Even the names are cool & fun.

Science Fiction author Hayden Trenholm is raising money for Strange Bedfellows: a science fiction  anthology all about politics.

Want an unusual gift: put your favorite images or  loved ones on decorative wood. Have a look at Jason Land's Wood Craft Kickstarter to print high quality photographs on wood.

Terrafinity site has produced a range of ideas on their Towards 9 Billion blog exploring humanity, ecology and ideas for a sustainable future.

...and that's plenty for now....

Thrive on.  And keep an eye on each other and the mighty.  And keep watching the skies!  (But stay away from glass.)

36 comments:

Jonathan S. said...

Well, I can think of a few quibbles with the state names on that map - for instance, the people of northern Rainier might prefer to name the state Denali, and "Deseret" seems a more likely choice than "Salt Lake" when one considers how far most of that state is from the Great Salt Lake - it is interesting how many affinity-groups seem to be put together with this map. I'm sure the conservative communities of Mendocino, for instance, would be happy to see Los Angeles made into its own state, and culturally Spokane has much more in common with its neighbors to the east than to the west.

(Obviously, there are exceptions, but most of them are exceptions that occur with the current map as well - the Seattle/Tacoma metroplex, for instance, is an odd bubble of liberal thought in a state more dominated by right-wingers, the reason why there is sometimes a reference to the "Cascade Curtain" in Washington politics. It would stand out even more with the addition of modern Alaska to the state, one would imagine - but then, California has endured all this time with Redmond and Beverly Hills in the same state...)

LarryHart said...

On Rand Paul--I've detested the man ever since I saw his acceptance speech when he won his 2012 Senate race. He basically said we shouldn't attack rich people (I agree with that clause, though I consider it a red-herring that ANY liberals are "attacking" the rich). But then he went on to explain that rich people are important because they give the rest of us jobs by which we can earn THEIR money. In other words, the pillagers and hoarders of wealth are the fount from which wealth legitimately originates.

The American myth is that anyone can accumulate wealth through hard work and innovation. But how are you supposed to accumulate wealth when it's already all owned by other people? Rand Paul's answer is "Thank God for rich people who can provide wealth for you if you work hard to please THEM."

tqft said...

Keep away from the glass?
I seem to remember a certain author talking about monkeys like us running to see the excitement rather than away from it like sensible races.

Terry Hancock said...

Regarding running towards the glass with the Russian meteor: the delay time between the visual burst and the shock wave arriving was apparently really long, owing to the distance.

People often think meteors are closer than they are because they are so bright. So it must've been quite a shock that the shock wave would arrive so late -- much longer than for lightning. In the cases I saw video of, the person had gotten a camera to photograph the contrail and then the blast hit while they were filming -- how long did it take them to get out the camera? Even assuming it was a cel phone they had on their person, it must have taken several seconds.

R J Jameson said...

Perhaps China did not have millions of cameras in 1981 when we were there but they had groups of Red Guards on every corner with guns…Strangely I did not feel threatened by the guards just more secure…they really at that time wanted us to be there…

Mel Baker said...

We had a great radio interview this morning on KGO San Francisco with Robert Verish, a meteorite hunter from David's neck of the woods in San Diego. He says the fireball that flew over us last night was from the same debris field as the Russian fireball. Turns out there have been clusters of meteors around February 16th of each year since 2009. Appears some new cometary or asteroid debris has parked itself in our orbit. Should we start calling them the Februaroids?

doug rogers said...

That would be the Big Efficiency Union, or the 'Eff U'.

Nicholas MacDonald said...

@ R J Jameson:

Did you ever read Neal Stephenson's classic "In The Kingdom of Mao Bell"?

He discusses the fact that the word for "internet" in China is derived from the same base as the "network" of Red Guard informants during the Cultural Revolution. It's no surprise that they've embraced the cell phone the way they have (one billion and counting!)

@All:

On the discussion about high-speed trading from a few days ago, and the Age of Amateurs:

https://www.quantopian.com/

Quantopian is a platform for amateurs to try their hand at quanting. Looks really interesting; on my "to investigate" list once I have some free time again...

adiffer said...

Big efficiency? Nah. The people I know who are thinking about this the most (and not frothing) call it Big Science. They point to the politicization of science through funding and argue that we have our own oligarchy of a sort locked in an unholy alliance with Big Government.

Anyone funded by government is suspect in that mindset.

Jonathan S. said...

adiffer, perhaps you could point them to some information on how much most scientists actually make from grants. Then have them ask themselves if they'd sit on a massive conspiracy for that kind of money - especially considering how much they could probably make in appearance fees and book sales by blowing the lid off.

The numbers just don't add up, you know?

adiffer said...

They do and they don't... sort of. I've tried a number of arguments with them including the Young Guns idea and they generally don't buy it. The issue is taint. Money motive taints everything in the sense that it puts science on the same moral level with every other special interest. Science is done by humans with all the usual quirks and flaws, therefore the products of science are no more trustable than the products of other political processes. I point out that they are generally anti-science with that attitude and don't grok our community and they counter with the fact that I wear rose-colored glasses and am a member of that community. They have successfully swallowed the notion that we do no more that pitch dogma like other political operatives.

I say the money DOES add up in a way though. Just before I left academia I was in a transitional state where I REALLY wanted to keep doing my work. Whether it was love for the subject or fear of the unknown doesn't matter much. The truth, though, is that I typically accepted a pittance for pay and was damn thankful. I got a wake-up call from my adviser one day when he pointed out that they would happily continue to take advantage of me for as long as I wanted it. He thought the way they treated part-timers was quite immoral, but he was only one person. The best he could do is kick me out of the nest. I'm not doing what I thought I wanted to do back then, but I have learned to fly. How many climate science people are there in my former position?

Tony Fisk said...

Regular meteor showers are usually named for the constellations they appear to emanate from ( eg the Leonids)

Ian said...

Adiffer, have you tried explaining to them that grants have to be acquitted?

You can't just blow the money on hookers and crack, not without going to prison.

Ian said...

Re. the anti-face recognition tech,

Even if there's no way around that, gait-recognition is the Next Big Thing in security anyway.

Not to mention the inferential systems that can guess pretty accurately about your movements by analyzing the social media posts of your friends even if you personally don;t use social media.

Just as internet security systems don't need to be 100% effective, internet surveillance only needs to identify most of the subjects, most of the time.

Jumper said...

I'm surprised security cams last long in this heavily-armed country.

LarryHart said...

addifer:

Big efficiency? Nah. The people I know who are thinking about this the most (and not frothing) call it Big Science. They point to the politicization of science through funding and argue that we have our own oligarchy of a sort locked in an unholy alliance with Big Government.

Anyone funded by government is suspect in that mindset.


So scientits who stand to score TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars in government grants are suspect, while spokesmen who get UNLIMITED MILLIONS from right-wing think tanks are not?

Randy Winn said...

Howard Taylor has a characteristically sardonic-yet-plausible suggestion for government structure in his comments on Sunday's Schlock Mercenary (scroll down past the comic), supplementing the traditional Three Estates with a few more; if you are not going to reward yourself by popping over and having a read, enjoy the last part:
"The Sixth and final Estate is the voters. Theoretically they wield great power. In practice, they never actually pick it up and do anything with it unless one of the other Estates tells them to."

David Brin said...

Had TEN estates in Existence.

Robert said...

By the way, does the e-book version of Existence include extra content for the underlined sections of the book? I always felt like I was only getting half the story with the print version.

What were the other Estates anyway? You have some fantastic elements here but we only ever get nibbles and never enough for a full taste. While good writing often has massive amounts of background elements that readers won't know about, I must admit some curiosity about these foundation elements that help "Existence" to stand.

Rob H.

Ian said...

That reapportionment map reminds me of one of my favorite maps from Frank Jacob's wonderful Strange Maps blog: http://bigthink.com/strange-maps/248-friends-polypotamians-countrymen

Thomas Jefferson proposal on how to divide the Louisiana Purchase into additional states.

Proof that you can be a genius for the ages and still suck at some things - like coming up with names.

"Metropotamia"

"Assennisippia"

David Brin said...

I would love to create added e-content for my books... as Neal Stephenson does in Hieroglyph and the Mongoliad. But I do not have either tie time or infrastructure. I strongly hinted at such an embedded-extrapolated approach in EARTH (1989)

BTW... Help! I am stuck using MS Word. I have tried turning off every autocorrect (sadistic) "feature" in preferences... and still this irritating -awful little box hovers over many of my paragraphs (I use return-tab) demanding that I decide whether to "change back to tab."

I do not want this "assistance" It does not even work. I just want to never see the little nasty thing, ever again. Please, someone help me with this insane torture device from Redmond.

Jonathan S. said...

"Adiffer, have you tried explaining to them that grants have to be acquitted?

"You can't just blow the money on hookers and crack, not without going to prison."


Now to write up a grant proposal to investigate the long-term effects of exposure to hookers and blow. I'm betting it will involve writing scripts in Hollywood, or possibly running for office...

Ian said...

Johnathan,

A decade or more ago tere was a research project where, if I recall the details right, researchers tried ot measure the relative addictiveness of beer, and video games.

subjects were offered the choice between beer,or playing video games and a sum of money. The average amount subjects would accept in exchange for foregoing the beer or video games would supposedly reflect the addictiveness of drinking beer or playing video games.

the main result they found was that University students really like drinking beer and really like playing video games.

sociotard said...

David, what are your Dolphins up to now?
http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/17/16994814-super-mega-pod-of-dolphins-spotted-off-san-diego-coast?lite

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,
Which dreadful version of Word are you using?

D

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. It's not that they think the grant money is being blown on vices. I can usually get them to admit that the people doing the studies are well meaning in their intent and not utter frauds. What they argue is that the draw of the money (even if we don't ask for as much as the other side) EXPLAINS why we produce the results we do. They argue that we will say what draws the money... because the other side does it too.

Even well-intentioned people can be made the dupes of those who wield power. Boffins, right? As best I understand their position, they argue that climate scientists are largely boffins at best and frauds at worst with the frauds distorting science to serve a political purpose. This argument should sound familiar since it is similar to David's argument applied to conservatives who unwittingly serve the oligarchs.


At some level I have to admit that scientists are humans too, thus our gift market is vulnerable to political forces that can direct the nature of our study, the rules we use to determine what is valid research, and how it is done. Science IS a gift economy with strong rules for what counts as a gift and how we determine the value of a gift. There are many historical examples of political players trying to distort science to serve their agenda with varying degrees of freedom too. What these folks are arguing is that we are seeing yet another example where Science will eventually reverse course and admit its error. They argue that they are simply ahead of the curve in recognizing the political agenda.

It is an insidious defensive incantation. The magic words go something like 'You are behaving like those you accuse.' Presto! The mind is now defended against the accuser gaining the higher moral ground.

duncan cairncross said...

At some level I have to admit that scientists are humans too, thus our gift market is vulnerable to political forces that can direct the nature of our study, the rules we use to determine what is valid research, and how it is done. Science IS a gift economy with strong rules for what counts as a gift and how we determine the value of a gift.

This could be true IF the USA was the only place doing science,

What about the rest of the world?

The USA has what 20%?, 30%? of the worlds scientists and a lot of the others have governments that would LOVE to prove the Americans wrong

Just think of the French

Alfred Differ said...

I'm mostly talking to Americans who don't think anything useful is going on outside our borders worthy of their attention. I'm being a little overly snarky, of course, but the truth is they don't know how to evaluate 'everyone else', so they don't factor it into their thinking.

Too make matters worse, many of them are deeply suspicious that European interest in halting climate chaos IS an attempt to prove us wrong. When they do think about it, they usually imagine socialist countries trying to trap us. Simplistic... I know... but that is roughly the mindset.

And... to make the debate that much harder, they usually can't quite wrap their minds around what a gift economy is yet they know in their bones that gifts come with the expectation of reciprocation (who doesn't?) They see the money paid supporting the construction of those gifts and suspect the agenda of the funding agent passes through so much that I don't know how to convince them it can't for all of them.

Ian said...

Hi David,

You've probably already read this but in case you haven't:

Cory Doctorow on word processing programs

http://www.locusmag.com/Features/2009/01/cory-doctorow-writing-in-age-of.html

Anonymous said...

they know in their bones that gifts come with the expectation of reciprocation

So I imagine they are also against campaign contributions, then? Especially for positions like judge?

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/01/us/01judges.html?_r=5&oref=slogin&


Personally, I've found those who claim that a scientist will sell their soul for a $50k grant also assume their favourite (neocon) politician can be totally impartial to millions of dollars in campaign contributions.

Robert said...

Having talked with some conservative friends, I've come to realize that many of these people don't believe in democracy. They see nothing wrong with gerrymandering districts to give rural regions all the power. (Yet they also don't see a problem with accepting tax money taken from urban areas.) They state the U.S. is not a democracy, but is a republic. And thus democratic governance is not something to be pushed... and efforts to disenfranchise the minorities and urban populations are just fine.

Of course, I'm not quite sure how much my friends troll me, so it could be that they're tugging my chain. ;)

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

I've got an interesting link that's on-topic concerning a potential method of dealing with asteroids. The thing is? This would work even better on smaller rocks, which means we could eliminate incoming asteroids akin to the one in Russia. Assuming we detect them early enough.

Rob H.

locumranch said...

As cultural stability is the enemy of bright promise, I hope DB meant this statement in an ironic sense:

"Sighing, let me once again ask you to name - across 6000 years - the eras of bright promise that were spoilt by meddlesome civil servants"

History shows us that cultural and technological progress spring from conflict & chaos rather than bureaucratic stability.

The modern era owes its velcro, microchips, space shuttles & gps-enabled cell phones to an extended Cold War between NATO & the USSR; World War 2 gave us transitor radios, penicillin & nuclear power; and World War 1 gave us woman's suffrage & US electrification.

Even the Rennaissance (literally meaning 'Rebirth') was only made possible by the massive 'Black Death' of the 14th Century which wiped out almost 50% of the total population of Western Europe, including its established governing bodies.

It therefore follows that our well-meaning but meddlesome civil servants -- as representatives of the established order -- do stand between the social us & technological progress. And, if you long for a future of 'bright promise', then you may have to pay a horrible price.

You have to be willing to throw the Status Quo & our civil servants under the bus.

Best.

David Brin said...

locumranch, that was the most cockeyed wrong thing I have heard or seen anyone say here in months.

unbelievable. That a recipient of the kindest, gentlest and by far most productive and inventive era in human history could actually manage to assert such incredible nonsense.

---

onward to nest posting.

Tony Fisk said...

I don't see how it follows, from your examples, that 'our well-meaning but meddlesome civil servants -- as representatives of the established order -- do stand between the social us & technological progress'.

The civil service was quite a thing during the first and second world wars: how do you think all those huge armies were co-ordinated and supplied?

Coincidence ain't causation.

David Brin said...

onward

Mike Frank said...

Mr. Card describes himself as a "Democrat". Dr. Pournelle is a "Republican". Both are fairly successful persons who appear to have led happy lives and as far as I can tell are also generous, loving individuals. Yet both get angry and write vitriol about many things they dislike or about others who disagree with them. Any ideas?