Monday, May 13, 2013

News about Space and Science Fiction

First a series of important announcements for the month of May:

I'll be on the show "Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe" on the History Channel.  A fun romp through the range of speculative sci & tech that help propel the fabulous Trek franchise to realms of vast imagining and hopeful possibility.

starshipcentury-300x297Then -- May 21 and 22 -- the “Starship Century Symposium” at the new Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UCSD will be devoted to an ongoing exploration of the development of a real starship in the next 100 years. You can catch videos of the event -- speakers include Freeman Dyson, Paul Davies, Robert Zubrin, Neal Stephenson, Joe Haldeman, Larry Niven, Gregory Benford and David Brin.

And rounding out a busy month:  Where are we heading next in space? Register to attend the Global Collaboration in 21st century Space Conference -- or International Space Development Conference -- May 23 to 27 in San Diego. Speakers include: Buzz Aldrin, Mae Jemison, Robert Zubrin, Vernor Vinge, David Brin, Chris Lewicki, Natasha Vita-More….   Just after UCSD's Starship Century Symposium earlier in the week.

== Existence is on the ballot ==

CampbellNomineesExistence is on the short list for the John W. Campbell Award for best science fiction novel of 2012.  Have a look at the competition!  

It was - in fact - an exceptionally fine year, with excellent works by Iain BanksKim Stanley RobinsonCory Doctorow and Charles Stross, as well as M. John HarrisonKen MacLeodChina MiĆ©villeHannu RajaniemiG. Willow WilsonTerry BissonAlastair ReynoldsAdam Roberts and John Varley.  Wow. The field is alive… alive!

== Is there hope for the future? ==

I've reported before about the group in Oxford studying Existential Risk of human extinction… cheery blokes.  Here is another interesting article about them.  Of course the Lifeboat Foundation (I am a fellow) discusses many of the same things… a myriad potential threats to our… existence. Alas, for too many citizens and authors, doom scenarios are not interesting topics for exploration and prevention, but rather opportunities for endless, voluptuous relish and hand-rubbing over our inevitable human failure.

There is push back!  Neal Stephenson has joined Kim Stanley Robinson, Greg Bear, Vernor Vinge, Catherine Asaro and me -- along with several others -- in urging the renewal of a science fiction that talks about hope. (While of course(!) delivering great action, peril and adventure.) Read about Neal's positive-thinking and uplifting Project Hieroglyph …

…and my own reasons why readers and viewers should turn away the sheer laziness of those who cannot think of any way to propel a lively plot, except by calling humanity and civilization worthless.

BerleantSome people are active trying to chart a path forward.  The best thought experiments are (of course) in top science fiction!  But occasional nonfiction has a stab at it.  Arising out of our discussions at the Lifeboat Foundation, there is a new book about the future that may be worth discussion.  The Human Race to the Future: What Could Happen - and What to Do, by Daniel Berleant. Who doesn't wonder about the future... what things will be like some day, how long it might take, and what we can do about it?  I'd welcome comments and reviews from some of you, and do comment also on Amazon.

== Our SFnal World! ==

Our sci fi future may be visible in Korea, where all of the Miss Korea finalists appear to be converging on the same face… almost literally.

Dark Eden, the story of an alien planet where the incestuous offspring of two stranded astronauts struggle to survive, has won the UK's top science fiction prize, the Arthur C Clarke award. Author Chris Beckett, a part-time lecturer in social work, beat some of science fiction's best-known writers, including Kim Stanley Robinson and Ken MacLeod, to take the prize.

Why would aliens come all this way just to invade earth? Charlie Jane Anders explores some of the parameters on ion (io9).

Cracked.com links you to  "5 Badass New (mini) Sci-Fi Movies You Can Watch on Your Lunch Break." The tech is moving along and there are fine artistic sensibilities in this vividly visual small flicks.  Alas, there are so many stories that could be told with these methods.  Cool and ORIGINAL short stories instead of old, old, old tropes, but these fellows apparently consider that to be their very last priority.  Still. They are visually stunning and worth a watch.

While we're exploring sci-fi ish shorts… This is an amazing music video! A live-action film of a first person shooter game. Nicole says: "Actually, this is just a regular day in Bad-Ass Russia!"

As if the homogenization of Hollywood scripts hasn't already gone too far, now there are services that computer-scan scripts to make them conform to what has statistically made money from audiences in the past. Well, it is a useful service, one supposes. Moreover, there's my charismatic and talented niece, right there in the cover photo.

== Brin in media ==

TechnologicalSingularityTwo panels from the latest LosCon that I participated in have been uploaded. One with David Gerrold and others, on "A Quiet Place to Write," plus one with Vernor Vinge, Phil Osborn and Mitch Wagner on "The Technological Singularity."

Tam Hunt did a well-organized and cogently-done interview with me in The Santa Barbara Independent.

James Moushon interviewed me about how a novelist uses social media, book trailers, etc and how I allocate time, in a well-put-together profile and interview : HBS Author's Spotlight.

==  More Space and Sci Fi -related news ==

EuropaReportEuropa Report.  A sci fi film for grownups? Is this for real?

Old Spock vs new Spock in a cute commercial.


A terrific (if incomplete) flowchart of time travel in movies.

== A sub-continent awakens to SF ==

India will be important to the world and Science Fiction will be important to any forward looking civilization, especially in fast-rising India.  Here are some links provided by the fine SF writer Professor Vandana Singh that may enlighten folks about that rise… And news of a new Indian SF magazine, recently launched.

== More serious ==

Proposed legislation for compulsory science fiction in West Virginia schools?

Republican state delegate Ray Canterbury says this move would inspire pupils to use practical knowledge and imagination in the real world.  An article in the Guardian probed this possible education reform, spiced with commentary by legendary sci fi author and educator James Gunn… and by yours truly.  A fascinating move that could help reverse our current slide toward timid thinking.

"As long ago as Future Shock, author and visionary Alvin Toffler called for exposing young people to science fiction as 'a sovereign prophylactic' against 'the premature arrival of the future'. Today in an even more rapidly changing world, it is even more important for Toffler's purpose but also for "making the kinds of informed decisions about present issues that will lead to better futures," said Gunn, who is founder of the Centre for the Study of Science Fiction at Kansas University.

ExpansionHOrizonsContrast this with recent proposals and measures in the outrageously and dogmatically anti-science House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology.  This truly is a war -- though not between all democrats and all republicans (note that W. VA delegate Canterbury is Republican).  Rather, it is a battle for survival between future-oriented and curiosity-drive progress…and a bitter habit of hateful nostalgia. A vile habit that certainly does fester on the far leftQ Almost as destructively as it spews damage from Fox-central.

Heck, while we're being serious, here are some unique takes on the philosophical aspects of my novel Existence, from the Center for Human Consciousness.

Oh but let's end with a swing toward joy.  Jerry Goldsmith's Sci Fi and Horror Music.  Need I say more?

40 comments:

David Brin said...

Were some of you blogmunity members managing the Wiki about EARTH predictions? Is this it? If so, someone has asked for posting permission. (Was this Tony Fisk's thing?)

(lizaloop@gmail.com) has requested access to your workspace (http://earthbydavidbrin.pbworks.com/).

Tim H. said...

Seems to me that RAH's essay "Spinoff" might have some points relevant to discussions of starships. I wouldn't be surprised if someone suggests that there should be no space exploration while anyone can find a problem dirtside.

Scott said...

It seems in almost every post you have to mention that "The Left" is almost as anti-reason as "The Right". If they're really so bad, why pay constant lip service? Just write a post about specific examples. Or is there none but you feel you must believe in BipartisanThink?
* May 13: "A vile habit that certainly does fester on the far left"
* May 11: "And there is a smaller but just as vehemently anti-science crowd among nostalgia junkies of the far left, as well."
* May 6: "I am fully aware of sins of the left, as well!"
* Feb 18: "...but also by science-hostile elements of the Left..."
* Feb 7: "Or the residual torches of recidivist leftism that keep trying to warp the liberal mindset."
* Jan 28: "...but there are noxious forces pushing moronic oversimplification on the far-left, as well."
* Jan 26: "There are some on the left whose mystical past-obsession almost matches the War on Science that is drum-beat every day on Fox."
* Dec 30: "All political wings have raving lunatics like this. And yes, they exist on the left, too!"
Come on! Find specific examples or just admit that in 2013, the destructive, irrational politics are all on the right.

locumranch said...

"Services that computer-scan scripts to make them conform to what has statistically made money from audiences in the past," also known as "word wooze", proposed by Fritz Leiber in his hilarious 'The Silver Eggheads'(1961).

Specific example of the Lunatic Left available on MSNBC May 13 2013, when New York spokesman for US 'Council of Mayors" states that "It is the government's job to make the country safer for all of its citizens," which seems reasonable enough when justifying a Firearm Ban but quickly becomes unreasonable when used to justify similar bans on saturated fats, sugary soft drinks, outdoor cigarette smoking, desirable physical contact (hugging) and imaginary violence like finger-pointing, the logical flaw being that it is the government's job to protect its citizenry from themselves, a theme proposed and expanded upon by Jack Williamson in "With Folded Hands" (Humanoid Series, 1949).

Political Lunacy is not the sole purview of either the Liberal Left or the Conservative Right. Instead, it is a function of an excess that extends a reasonable premise to an unreasonable and absurd extreme, giving us the term 'extremist", defined by American Heritage as "One who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm, especially in politics" and by Collins as "a person who favours or resorts to immoderate, uncompromising, or fanatical methods or behaviour".


Best.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Locum Said
"It is the government's job to make the country safer for all of its citizens," which seems reasonable enough when justifying a Firearm Ban but quickly becomes unreasonable when used to justify similar bans on saturated fats, sugary soft drinks, outdoor cigarette smoking,

Why is it unreasonable to place a (high) limit on the size of sugar drinks??
Why is it unreasonable to save a fortune in cleanup by preventing people from polluting the environment with smoke and butt ends??

Scott said...

locumranch, perhaps those positions you mention are fringe. But as you say, what the spokesman said seems reasonable. It's your own straw-man arguments you're calling extreme. Find me one video of a national politician trying to criminalize finger-pointing and I'll eat my hat.

Tony Fisk said...

Liza Loop now has access.

I suppose we should expand the site to predictions in general, and start adding those made in Existence.

Randy Winn said...

PETA sometimes makes my eyes roll, and there used to be something called the Earth Liberation Front that committed acts both criminal and stupid (...whether criminality or stupidity is worse, I'll leave for you to decide ...)

But they are not in Congress or getting a LIE-BURY built for them in Texas, unlike their opposite numbers on the Right.

I don't mind Doc Brin's Ritual of Even-Handedness, since he always accompanies it with the Frank Admission Of Current Imbalance. The Corporate media is a whole 'nother story. At least it makes great fodder for humor!

Alex Tolley said...

@Duncan

"Why is it unreasonable to place a (high) limit on the size of sugar drinks?"

1. Because if makes no sense - ban large drinks doesn't stop someone drinking lots of small drinks to get the same does.
2. The harm is primarily to the individual, not to others. So a basic infringement on individual liberty.

"Why is it unreasonable to save a fortune in cleanup by preventing people from polluting the environment with smoke and butt ends?"

A fortune? Compared to the pollution from automobiles and trucks?

A ban on smoking in and near buildings is reasonable, as that affects other people. I would be OK with designated smoking bars if that is what the market demands.

It is when the activity has -ve effects on non-participants that we need to act. At some point, this should include activities that most participate in, but have -ve consequences for present and future generations, such as AGW.

Jonathan S. said...

"Why is it unreasonable to place a (high) limit on the size of sugar drinks?"

For one, who defines what a "high" limit is? I know some for whom the old 12-oz drinks are still too much; we should totally abstain from all refined sugars. Further, not all those huge drinks are consumed by a single person. (For instance, there was a time when the AM/PM chain offered what they called a Monster - basically a small plastic bucket full of soda. When my wife and I were moving from San Diego to Tacoma, we got one of those buckets and filled it with Jolt. The two of us didn't empty the bucket until somewhere north of Grants Pass, OR.)

There are those who, given the least ability to regulate something, will promptly regulate it into outright illegality - all in the name of protecting us, of course.

locumranch said...

Scott owns a tasty hat, I hope, because finger-pointing qualifies as an illegal "assault" under British, US & Common Law (wherein an assault is defined as "an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact") as does a sneer, a lustful leer, hate speech, a threatening appearance, casual contact or ANY act that "creates an apprehension in another".

And, although this definition seems perfectly reasonable assuming the "reasonable" legal application thereof, Reason and "reasonable enforcement" is the first casualty of any extreme "Zero Tolerance" policy, leading to the equally looney and irrational (Left/Right) "Wars" on Terror, Drugs, Ignorance, Violence, Diet, Progress, Sexual Inequality, Orientation, Family, Science and/or Belief".

Whether Liberal, Left, Conservative or Right, the loonies commit the same (extreme) error in matters of government. Both assume that the purpose of government is to protect the health (well-being) of Society and/or the Individual in specific, the enforcement of which leads to an institutionalized form of liberal and/or conservative authoritarianism.

Moderation is the purpose of government -- to protect the health (well-being) of Society and/or the Individual in general rather than "in specific" -- and extremists at both ends forget this.

See "Social Compact".


Best.

Tony Fisk said...

Locum's definition of assault is accurate. It's a favourite topic of discussion amongst law students (at least, it was when my wife was one). Especially when it's pointed out that it's *not* within the definition of assault to attack without prior knowledge.. (eg sneaking up from behind and applying a cosh... or a sneer)
The converse is that assault is in the eye of the plaintiff. Could the simple act of wearing a veil be viewed as assault by an islamaphobe? It all comes down to the 'man on the Clapham omnibus'.

wrt sugar drinks: sizes and levels. One thing that's missing from this argument is awareness. While it can be argued that an individual has a right to their super soda if they want one, is it clear that the person knows what level of sugar they are consuming? Jamie Oliver, when he was promoting his 'food revolution' in LA schools, kept hitting this point again and again: flavoured milk contains *far* more sugar than your average pepsi. Do young schoolchildren know this? Do they prefer chocolate or plain? Do you need a clue-bat? Yet the flavoured milk *had* to be made available in the spirit of freedom of choice.

Robert said...

By the way, Blogger is eating posts again. I've had several in this thread eaten so far.

Ian said...


"A fortune? Compared to the pollution from automobiles and trucks?"

Prior to legislative bans on in-door smoking, hotel chains that voluntarily adopted no-smoking polices reported savings on cleaning and maintenance costs of up to 50%.

locumranch said...

Ian's response about the economic benefits of a smoking ban is an excellent example of a well-reasoned moral argument that is not necessarily logical.

Ian argues that smoking (which increases maintenance and cleaning costs) is economically wasteful from the perspective of 'cost benefit analysis', yet the logical of 'cost benefit analysis' is flawed by its implicit assumption that smoking is either unnecessary or "optional".

Yes, yes. Cigarettes are considered a luxury. Also, they are "bad" for us; they are harmful to our health; they are addictive; they are messy and smelly; and they are expensive.

Still, many people have chosen* to smoke, and that ability to choose*, that choice*, is a fundamental aspect of biological life which is neither unnecessary nor optional. Realize also that such a necessity-based utilitarian argument could be applied to any human inclination & all human endeavours.

According to cost benefit analysis, are cars necessary? Shoes? Clothes? Art? Literature? Science? Survival? Why climb a mountain? Why go up into Space? Why even bother to breathe if you'll just have to repeat that same action over & over & over?

According to environmental-based cost benefit analysis, human life is just way too expensive, so let's ban it.

Best.

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

Utilitarian arguments are a trap. They lead eventually to the death of liberty. A better argument for tolerating a coercive rule (limits on sodas, cigarettes, and so on) is that they are necessary because of other supported traditional activities that would incentivize harm. A social safety net covering emergency health costs removes some of the sting for smoking related diseases, so supporting the net enables a coercive anti-smoking effort. If the coercion is too onerous, end or alter the safety net.

High sugar drinks are a bit like this where the related diseases include diabetes and a host of obesity related damage. Obviously, government imposed limits on our sodas are coercive, but the justification is the reasonable relationship to the costs we face.

There is no utilitarian path forward, though, that doesn't kill liberty. Coercion is what it is. Even the safety net is coercive. It shouldn't be about optimizing. It should be about what we chose to tolerate.

(Sorry about the deletion. My English skills are in a slump today. Too many homonym errors in the earlier one. Too embarrassing. 8) )

locumranch said...

I agree with Adiffer with the exception of a single semantic presumption regarding the definition of the term "necessary":

(1) "Needed to achieve a certain desired effect or result, requisite, required, essential, indispensable, inevitable or unavoidable" (Common Use definition);

(2) "Valid, true under all interpretations or in all possible circumstances, determined to be true by its meaning and always yielding a true conclusion when its premises are true" (Logical sense); and

(3) "Expressing a law of nature, compelling or not free" (Philosophical sense).

It would therefore follow that the term "necessary" is suspect because it contains an implicit assumption about the compelling validity of a specified desire and/or outcome (aka 'Begging the Question') even though that specific desire may not be universally true.

So I ask you questions two:
(1) What is necessary? and
(2) Necessary as defined by who?

Best.

Ian said...

Ian made no argument either way regarding the desirability of smoking.

Ian simply provided a data point.

Ian thinks locum needs to spend more time reading the words on the page and less time listening to the voices in his head.

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2013/05/15.aspx

This made me think of David's Holocene work. Maybe someone is finally interested.

Jumper said...

This blog has become the Inappropriate Capitalization Blog.

The funny part is David and locum, so often at each other's throat, are the main promulgators. And too many others.

And you kids get off my lawn!

Greg Byshenk said...

@Duncan
"Why is it unreasonable to place a (high) limit on the size of sugar drinks?"

@ Alex Tolley
1. Because if makes no sense - ban large drinks doesn't stop someone drinking lots of small drinks to get the same does.

But that is precisely the point.

That is, the idea of limiting the size of packaging is (in part) precisely that it doesn't stop people from buying several small(er) packages to get teh same amount of soda (or whatever else). But it does stop people from buying and consuming more than they really want to, just because of the way things are marketed (buying the "medium" size, buying the larger size because it is a "better deal", and so on).

Tim H. said...

I often see those "soda buckets" discarded unfinished, I suspect the folks pushing limits assume every one of those is drunk to the dregs.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Packaging size

A lot of us older guys were brought up eat everything on our plates,

Don't think that is as strong in the younger generation

Anyway studies show - larger portions = eat more

Limiting the size of the drinks - or portions sounds like a win/win situation - if you want more you can buy two

Robert said...

Maybe it's also about waste. If you're not likely to finish that drink then you've wasted it. And what does that stuff do with all the chemicals and such in it to the ground when you pour it into the grass, I wonder? Heck, if it's diet soda... what does that FAKE sugar do to insects that think they're getting a free meal?

I do know this. I would purchase the largest size bottled water I could because the larger you go, the less expensive it becomes comparatively (nowadays it's "what will fit in the cup-holder?). People want the "best value" so they buy in bulk to get it.

Once upon a time, these ultra-large sizes didn't exist. Merchandisers didn't bother with them. They didn't think a market existed for them. Thus laws were not needed. But now that they know they CAN sell them they do... and you have people who waste a lot of food or beverage as a result trying to get "the best deal." But the laws do not take away something people always had. It eliminates a wasteful product that only recently came into existence.

So. Does a law eliminating these actually take away our rights? Or does it set things back to the way it was in our parents' time (as it were), and thus restoring conservative values to our grand nation? ;)

Rob H.

locumranch said...

Conservative, liberal, desirable, undesirable, appropriate, inappropriate, needed, unnecessary, value-driven, economy-sized: These are all culturally-dependent nonsense terms and specious arguments.

We equate stability with growth, equilibrium with recession, labour with liberty, justice with compromise, wastefulness with affluence, leisure with industry, deprivation with obesity and liberality with conservationism.

We exclude the middle because words no longer mean what we think they mean, making discussion difficult, resolution impossible and moderation unlikely. Plain talk is dead and extremism has become the new norm, so let's regulate liberty, legislate liberalism and please excuse me while I sob.

Best.

Randy Winn said...

Truly we are a blessed planet that we spend so much time defending the liberty to sell gallon-sized High-Fructose Corn-Syrup solutions.

The High Ones who monitor our communications network had expressed concern that the suppression of large-sized cups was an Existential Risk, since in the vast majority of cases, it is but a short step from there to the suppression of liberty and the concomitant elimination of technology (including radios, hence The Great Silence.)

Fortunately Earth's civilization stumbled upon the One Successful Technique for defeating this plague: The Overuse Of Capital Letters.

PREDICTION: if Kepler continues to function, we will evenutally discover that all Goldilocks planets either lack oversized drink containers and advanced technology, or radiate Mixed Case Messages.

(It is increasingly difficult for a layman to come up with a new concept in the science, but I may have done so. Party Time!)

Jumper said...


Randy unleashes the Tongue in Cheek Exception. And it is exceptional.

Somehow I suspect the whole big soda law is designed to keep me from getting enough ice in a cold drink. Rumor has it that ice is actually more expensive than the soda, and if I were to buy a 32 oz. drink I would like it to contain about 26 oz. of ice. I see in New York they will never allow me to get that. Those bastards.

Alfred Differ said...

locumranch:

I'm using meaning #1 for necessary when I connect a coercive rule to another preferred rule that produces an unintentional harm. I'm not agreeing with arguments that make these connections, but I am recognizing the usefulness of the connections in justifying coercion.

For example, motorcycle helmet laws are 'necessary' if one supports a policy of providing emergency medical care free or below market rates. The people who pay for this benefit to those in need could justify the helmet laws by arguing that taxation is coercive and health care cost subsidies remove some of the incentive for an individual to rationally consider the consequences of their actions when riding without a helment. One coercion is used to limit another.

Neither form of coercion in this example is morally acceptable to a classical liberal, but they can be tolerated as long as people aren't trying to use a utilitarian argument and optimize for minimal coercion. An optimum that leads to coercsion is a social design that assumes too much knowledge that simply doesn't exist of what people want and what they can do in the future.

Alfred Differ said...

Robert,

>>So. Does a law eliminating these actually take away our rights? Or does it set things back to the way it was in our parents' time (as it were), and thus restoring conservative values to our grand nation? ;)

Heh. There are questions that grab at me much better. Should we grant authority to the government to make these decisions for us? Do you really want them deciding that a new innovation is wasteful?

The classical lib in me argues that we already have a process for dealing with this. If something truly is wasteful, prices will go up on the resources involved. If they don't, be on the look out for subsidies. David has spoken about US ag subsidies, so he has plenty of material on this. Knocking them out might be the better option to regulation of their consequences.

Ian Gould said...

So this is pretty staggering.

Electrical stimulation to specific areas of the skull increase mathematical ability.

THe effects, if not permanent are long-lasting.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23559-zap-the-brain-with-electricity-to-speed-up-mental-maths.html

Alex Tolley said...

@Greg
But the whole premise to reduce cup sizes is that we consume too much sugar. So if buying several smaller cups is allowable, then consumption can stay high. Conversely, why is it assumed that large sizes are consumed by one person, not by several to reduce costs? Shouldn't diet beverages be treated differently than non-diet ones? It is just social engineering, but done badly.

Tony Fisk said...

Aha! Coronal discharge: the reason why the hair of mad scientists sticks out so much!

(David's sleek-geek look is simply him being modest, of course!)

Preserving the liberty to consume super-size serves of high fructose corn syrup! Mmm! So what happened to 'poisoning our precious bodily fluids'?

Meanwhile, we have folk contemplating jump-starting a spacecraft that's a third of an Earth orbit away! What a culture!

heninyi swerable: note to self - do *not* use the word 'heninyi' in any first contact situation. It may have consequences.

Robert said...

Actually, there is an increasing number of studies showing that sugar-free and calorie-free beverages are even worse for your health than regular ones. As for one person consuming an entire "pail" of drink... I'm not sure about your part of the country, but I know here in New England there is... a social tendency not to "share germs" by sharing drinks. Even separate straws are discouraged because of "backwash" and the like. Thus it's one drink per person.

Admittedly, my friends (who are into manga and anime) were joking about a girl indirectly kissing me after I gave her half of my (alcoholic) beverage - I was driving home, was already starting to feel it slightly, and felt it was better not to drink it the rest of the way. (I'm a cheap drunk.) (Amusing in a sense seeing I often will partake of a mouthful of scotch for "medicinal" purposes shortly before bed - either to numb a tooth root that never healed quite right after multiple root canals, or because small amounts of alcohol are supposedly good for your blood vessels. That and I promise the germs in my throat that if I don't get sick I'll get them drunk regularly. They're small, they don't need much.) So while I may have grown up with the "sharing drinks is unhygienic" other younger people may not have.

Rob H.

Alex Tolley said...

@Robert - the point is how are you going to regulate soda consumption? Interestingly, you took one of my examples (diet vs sugar) and increased the scope. So let me extend this again.

Most vendors just give you cup and you select the soda from the machine.
Should plain soda water (no sweetners) be regulated? What about iced tea? What about refill policies?

How about limiting candy purchases? What about those mega candy packs for Halloween?

My policy on all this would be very different.

1. Tax/subsidize food so that sugar and fatty foods are more expensive than vegetables.

2. Improve school lunches to encourage better early eating habits.

3. Spend some money on advertising to encourage better eating habits.

4. Change the wage laws so that the people have more money & time to eat better, rather than resorting to junk food.

Pigou taxes plus incentives, rather than poorly thought out soda size serving bans.

Robert said...

The problem is, you're talking taxation. Taxation will never go through because of Republicans. Even if you gave massive tax cuts to the ultra-rich as part of the deal so it was revenue-negative, at the end Republicans would either back out or would manipulate the wording so that there were so many loopholes the legislation was ineffective.

Currently, the Republican Party is playing a game of Political Jenga. Their tower is swaying and they're arguing over how to make it collapse on the Democrats rather than deal with what caused it to become unstable in the first place.

Rob H.

Greg Byshenk said...

@Alex Tovey:
But the whole premise to reduce cup sizes is that we consume too much sugar. So if buying several smaller cups is allowable, then consumption can stay high.

I'd suggest that part of the premise is that people consume too much sugar without thinking about or being aware of it, combined with the fact that consumption is conditioned by portion size (as others have already noted, people will tend to consume more if portion sizes are larger).

Limiting sizes serves the goal of limiting overconsumption while still allowing the choice to do so, if the consumer truly wants to.

locumranch said...

What do sugary drinks, over-consumption, coercion, ECT and the Kepler probe have in common?
People desire them for their own reasons. That's necessary definition #1.

Remember when I argued that most human beings aren't logical and Adiffer said "I'm not agreeing with arguments that make these connections, but I am recognizing the usefulness of the connections in justifying (my argument)?"
That's necessary definition #2, used to justify arguments like coercion, climate change & TWODA, even when the initial conditional premise behind that argument may or may not be true.

Finally, most cultural and philosophical belief systems, including our most cherished *ideals* like free will and human rights, are false because physical laws limit while our desires transcend all limits. That's necessary definition #3.

(1) We call them necessities when we want what we want when we want them; (2) we illogically conclude that these necessities are "valid, true under all interpretations or in all possible circumstances," assuming that our initial premise is true; and (3) the cultural "we" ignore all physical evidence to the contrary when the evidence fails to conform to our most cherished ideals.


Best.

Alex Tolley said...

@Greg "part of the premise is that people consume too much sugar without thinking about or being aware of it"

That was exactly the reason that many states legislated for calorie counts on menus, to make the consumer aware of what they were consuming. As a result, I now very rarely buy a cake/pastry with my coffee.

This is instructive, because rather than take away my ability to order mega portions of calories, I can be dissuaded to do so by information. So why not put the calorie counts for sodas on the dispensers too?