Saturday, June 07, 2014

Sifting the skies for "others"

Let’s talk sci and tech! So much cool stuff and so little time… so we'll start by looking upward for this posting.

First… the Wall Street Journal reports that Google is planning to spend more than $1 billion on satellites that will offer internet access worldwide from space. My contacts at ViaSat confirm that something is in the works. People familiar with the project say the devices Google intends to use will weigh less than 250 pounds. The WSJ's sources say the costs for the venture could top $3 billion. Among many other aspects, this could be the jiu jitsu move that allows Earth citizens to evade the censorship of national governments. And many other good things! But of course, there's always a cost.

Wow.

== NIAC announces bold new projects ==

I serve on the board of advisor of NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts (NIAC) group, which doles out grants to highly speculative endeavors at the very far edge of the usefully plausible... like self inflating and laser-manipulated optical mirrors, or spelunking robots to explore lunar and martian lava tubes, or new kinds of radiation shielding. We often have to stretch hard to evaluate these proposals, which often forge well beyond my background in comets and asteroids... or the work I did with Calspace or for Hughes Aircraft, in other days. But the advisory board has a wide range of complementary skill sets: we learn from the applicants and from each other.

Anyway, drop by to look at the latest round of way-cool projects that NIAC (the group charged with taking real chances) has chosen for next round.  

(I hope soon to be able to post some of the talks and consultations I've given recently for the Atlantic Council, the Mitre Corporation, Google, and the Internet Society.  Sorry, the Pentagon stuff won't be available.)

== Sift the skies for “others”! ==

JBIS-METI-SETI-DEBATE My paper on the search for - and worries about - alien contact is one of a dozen in the latest issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society - a special volume that is formatted as a debate over the controversial matter of beaming "yoohoo messages to ET." It is a serious matter that should be discussed openly by humanity's greatest sages, before a fascinated and participating world populace! Instead, a dozen or so zealots want to make the decision on our behalf, without a scintilla of consultation. The debate is here… though (for now) at a small fee that goes to a good cause…

… getting out there, ourselves.

aaic-nasa How We'll Talk to Aliens: Now available from NASA for free download (print also available) is "Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication" edited by Doug Vakoch, with articles about a wide range of non-astronomical aspects of contact with ExtraTerrestrial Civilizations.


Meanwhile, we learn about planets! Like… Godzilla earth? Here’s an interesting discovery of a rocky planet which has a mass some 17 times that of Earth. Combining transit-eclipse size measurements from the Kepler telescope with mass-tug effects from a scope in the Canary Islands, researchers showed that Kepler-10c cannot be a gaseous world but must comprise very dense material. Interestingly, the age of the host star (a red dwarf) is about 11 billion years old, which is early in the evolution of the Universe when generations of exploding stars have not had long to make the heavy elements needed to construct rocky planets. Finding Kepler-10c tells us that rocky planets could form much earlier than we thought.

== Piecing together the puzzle ==

Gravitational wave discovery faces scrutiny: Inspiring to witness science at work, both collegial and relentlessly competitive and self-critical. In this case, the BICEP results reported in March -- suggesting that polarization in the cosmic background might reveal inflation patterns in the first trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of the universe -- might have contained some flawed image processing assumptions. We can all wait and see. But the process is fascinating to follow in this excellent NATURE article.

Universe-simulationModeling the universe, starting with the Big Bang, only became possible with the advent of supercomputers, fantastic software and the realization of the existence of mysterious dark matter. Combining all of these resulted in what may be one of the great scientific achievements of our time -- a model that portrays the Bang, then natural evolution into the cosmos we see today, with the same array of numbers of sizes and types of galaxies. If verified, it is a stunning validation of our current models and our growing ability as simulators… then creators?… in our own right.

See also this video about the simulation. I hope it's valid.

It used to be generally thought that our solar system's largest moon contained an ocean with ice on bottom and top. But crushing pressure on Ganymede could create up to three layers of ice, with different kinds in each layer. The densest and heaviest ice on Ganymede is called "Ice VI." Hence, Jupiter's moon Ganymede may have a multi-layered ocean of alternating ice and liquid water that resembles a "club sandwich," according to NASA.

== We need … more SPACE! ==

spacex-dragonElon does it again. Unveils version 2 of the Dragon Capsule... this one capable of carrying astronauts. The fellow's timing is amazing... just as the US and Europe are looking for a way to stop paying Russia for manned Soyuz transports carrying our astronauts to the space station.
And then…

The surprise donation to NASA of two identical space telescopes by the United States National Reconnaissance Office has put NASA in a bind. They are essentially brand new Hubbles… a super gift, but then comes the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to turn them into scientific instruments. Read about a petition to make use of these (potentially) amazing gifts for astronomy.

== Will OCO help cure madness? ==

NASA plans to launch the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2 mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on July 1, 2014.  The OCO-2 mission will be NASA’s first dedicated Earth remote sensing satellite to study atmospheric carbon dioxide from space.  I plan to be there! Additional information about the mission can be found on the NASA site. 

Why has it taken so long? There was an attempt to launch a climate satellite early in the Bush administration… a launch that mysteriously (even suspiciously?) blew up. After a second failure, budgets for climate science were slashed and satellites cancelled, while the GOP Congress passed measures eliminating Earth studies from the NASA mission and tried to do the same to NOAA! There were some interim sats and their work has universally confirmed global warming models, but at levels of accuracy that still allowed denialists to wriggle and squirm.

One can hope the new satellite will put doubts to rest and that mature citizens will rally behind whatever the science shows. One can hope.

Climate-change-report-2014Meanwhile, the most definitive climate change report so far has been issued by the US Government and it paints a serious-sobering picture… that climate change is already adversely affecting our lives and economy and picking up speed. The response? Not "maybe we should take prudent measures to prepare and ameliorate, just in case 97% of scientists prove to be right." (Look up TWODA.)

No, the response is hatred of scientists and all "government." Ponder that.

The question I have for (the recent, neo-crazy version of) conservatives is this: "Do you really want to base the entire credibility of your whole movement on obstinate rejection of science?" On a fabulated image that scientists know less, are dumber, more herd-like and less credible… than a hireling propagandist on Fox News?

82 comments:

Chris Heinz said...

The fossil fuel billionaires who have the rights to the $150T of fossil fuels still in the ground care about only 1 thing -- the $150T.

Outlaw X said...

Personally I hate the term fossil fuels. I don't believe oil and Natural gas comes from a bunch of dead organic material but instead is abiotic. There is just too much of it and besides where does all the methane come from on the moons around Jupiter and Saturn, not dead organic material.

ThemadLibrarian said...

The processes by which carbon materials can get 'cooked' into various 'anes' are fairly well established. They work, although by somewhat different mechanisms, both on Earth and in the Jovian and Saturnian moons.

Anon. suggested that voxday had some interesting material in the preceding comments. From the flavor of crapstorm I have seen him and his followers stir up on other blogs, apparently from sheer orneriness, I would view anything from voxday's blog with a very jaundiced eye.

TheMadLibrarian
thinck: Yes, please do so!

Jumper said...

My dad was a "scientist" but he never thought to say so. He did original research and his title was "Chief Research Chemist" at a large corporation. He had patents, dutifully turned over to the company. Which is why I always laugh at polls of "scientists" because the standards used by the pollsters are often unpublished. IBM actually had "scientist" in some of their titles. I sort of thought it was a perq which cost them nothing. It was just forensics.

Robert said...

As a brief aside, I'm curious as to a recent possible discovery of a Thorne-Zytkow object - or more precisely a neutron star that was "eaten" by a red giant and has become that star's core. It seems this type of star can pump out new heavy metals in a fashion different than that of the normal method: supernova. But it also has left me scratching my head as to if another such star has been theorized.

In essence, a star that has "swallowed" a black hole.

There are several examples of black holes leeching off the upper atmosphere of companion stars known to exist. But might not such pairings eventually result in the loss of tidal energies resulting in the black hole merging with the star itself and descending into that star's core?

And if such a situation occurs, what would the result be? How would this impact on the star and its processes?

(For that matter, given that white dwarfs can undergo supernova if they accumulate too much matter on their surface, is it possible for a Thorne-Zytkow object to achieve critical mass and either explode or transform into a black hole as well?)

Rob H.

Outlaw X said...

From the flavor of crapstorm I have seen him and his followers

"Readers" not "Followers" You misunderstand his audience.

Tony Fisk said...

If you measured the carbon isotope levels in fossil fuels I think you'd find the C12/C13 ratios point to an organic origin (photosynthesis preferentially uses C12)

Anonymous said...


............3...Nice..^_^v................

Jumper said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf-Rayet_star
A variant sort of star.

Wow. Following some of the links in the comments is ... interesting. Are David Dunning and Justin Kruger "scientists?"

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2 on the previous thread:

"Congressional obstructionism?" I don't recall commenting on the proper role of the legislative branch lately but it is certainly a question worthy of discussion.


Yeah, you might not remember, but a long time ago, you made a comment that really stuck with me. I'm paraphrasing, but essentially you asserted that if Mitch McConnel and the rest of the Senate minority truly considered President Obama's agenda to be a threat to this country, then they should be expected to do everything constitutionally allowed in order to stop him.

I grant you that your position there is defensible. But in the real world application, I found it chilling, because the GOP somehow always finds their opponents to be not just an opposing faction to be dealt with, but a clear and present danger to be warred upon. President Obama is not an exceptional case here, he's just the latest in a line to be so pilloried.

Remember how in 2004, John Kerry was "The most liberal Senator ever". And then Hillary was "the most liberal Senator ever" in 2008
until candidate Obama took the lead, at which point he magically acquired the title?

So it is what that sort of background in mind that it concerns me when what the GOP considers to be a danger is used as justification for relentless, extraordinary measures against the legitimately-elected majority doing its job.

For a counterexample, with hindsight, I think GW Bush's nomination of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the USSC has seriously damaged the United States by facilitating its slide into oligarchy. By the reasoning you posited, the then-minority Democrats in the Senate should have filibustered those nominations into the stone age. Instead, the Democrats still receive attacks for having filibustered a whole four of Bush's federal judge nominations (out of hundreds), as if this was such an impertinent thing to do that Bill Frist would have been justified in trotting out the "nuclear option", eliminating the filibuster.

Democrats get pilloried for doing what they're allowed to do in a few cases. Republicans are justified in doing the same thing on every nomination and piece of legislation. Somehow, the argument seems biased.

Robert said...

Why it's simple. Democrats are out to destroy the foundations of our nation and destroy everything that makes Americans American. Thus Republicans are fully justified to do everything in their power to disrupt and eliminate Democratic initiatives so to preserve the Union, up to and including waging war on seceding Democrats.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Anonymous:

............3...Nice..^_^v................


As my daughter discovered, you can type a string like that into Google Translate, have it translate from Japanese, and it sounds really funny the way the voice says "Dot-uh-dot-uh-dot-uh..."

LarryHart said...

@Robert,

I know why the Republicans think they are justified in treating the opposing party as an enemy at war rather than a partner in running the place.

I think Tacitus is genuinely interested in conversation, and I'm trying to make clear that I think his party is doing just that. And that it undermines the functioning of democracy to do so.

I do think the Repulbicans are a clear and present danger to the country. I also don't think an all-out take-no-prisoners war between the parties is a good idea. I'm not claiming my own sense of danger as a justification for subverting the democratic process in my own favor. But if the other side leaves my side no choice, I'm certainly going to throw every justification they gave for their own actions back in their faces when my side gives it back. The argument, "But your side (D) really is a danger, whereas my side (R) is just doing the right thing," holds no water. Because guess what? You (and I as well) just might be...wrong.

locumranch said...

By arguing that all conservatives are all the same, Larry H appears to fall into the trap of dichotomous thinking, failing to realize that the right divides itself into the classic conservative who wishes to keep things the way they are and the conservative-progressive (neocon) who wishes to remake the world in a more conservative fashion, much along the lines of the liberal and the liberal-progressive. As to why Larry finds such (progressive) conservative idealism to be so irrational & distressing, I do not know because he appears to have no such trouble rationalizing & accepting the similarly irrational liberal-progressive variety.

On the subject of Vox Day (Vox Populi)**, I think David is missing out on a Positive Sum opportunity on par with the Scopes Monkey Trial. Vox is a showman, and a public tiff with him would do more to popularize both Science Fiction & Transparency than either word of mouth or a commercial ad campaign, just as the Scopes Monkey Trial forced the idea of evolution into the consciousness of a relatively uninterested & unengaged political majority.

Isn't that exactly the same game that you (the plural you) are trying to play with Climate Change?

First, you bolster & create the illusion of a CC Denier class (a straw-man), then you manufacture a Battle Royale between the two, all in order to get an unconcerned political majority to engage, commit & self-polarize until we are all intellectually united & enlightened by the chant of 'Go Team'.


Best

** Vox's criticisms of David are (of course) unfounded, being based on an equivocal & improper definition of the term 'scientist', implying that scientists 'do' science in the way that Debbie 'does' Dallas.

David Brin said...

I did drop by the vox blog and I have to say that I am unimpressed. The shallowness of discourse might be typical for today's internet. Perhaps even a little above that dismal average. But you folks here spoil me. You leap on the ideas, instead of grabbing every and any excuse to be bitchy...

...a word that perfectly describes both vox's remarks and the notorious troll/stalker he quoted from.

I will post here in comments my reply (below this). But what struck me is that his nasty little sniping did get me to ponder the distinction between generalist and specialist... a topic that Robert Heinlein raised in some of his novels, wherein he posited a future profession of "synthesist."

I recall that I rather liked that concept and said "that's what I want to be, when I grow up!" And only now I realize, that's exactly what happened!

In both books and my travels/consultations - and in occasional guerrilla papers on anthropology, addiction, psychology, exobiology, energy and so on - I flit about to varied flowers, welcomed by some of the world's great specialists and invited to offer cross-fertilizing comments or insights.

Drawback: my publications vita remains sparse.

Advantage: I don't give a damn about that! I am having fun, meeting the world's top minds, spreading pollen. Getting eagerly invited back.

Ah, but back to the precipitating piece of backstabbing trolley: the core point though is sad. Confronted with this generalist-specialist distinction as a fascinating thing to ponder - e.g. whether such a generalist deserves to call himself a "scientist" - not a single one of Vox's commenters showed the slightest interest in actual ideas. Just snippery.

I came away appreciating you folks, all the more.

David Brin said...

HERE'S THE RESPONSE I ADDED AT THE VOX SITE. (An utter waste of time that I'll amortize by sharing it here, with folks I respect:

---
A brief, measured response.

1) When people engage in a public pillorying, it is common courtesy to let the target know. Instead of being offered collegial opportunities for response, I learned of this blind-side assault fifth hand. The first order conclusion is that this is not a person who was well-raised.

2) I admit freelance is an easier life than the academic trenches. I have no need to burnish a vita. Getting to be a sniff-everywhere scientific generalist and cross-fertilizer is fun and fits my personality more than specialization did. Sorry.

3) The Transparent Society is one of the only public policy books from the 20th Century still in print, and selling more every year. I now fly all over the world on this topic. Open it.

4) Beyond fiction and nonfiction, I’m a speaker and consultant on sci-technological trends. I’m on the board of advisors of NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts (NIAC) group as well as corporations and intelligence agencies. So far this year, I consulted in the Pentagon, for MITRE Corp, ODNI, the Atlantic Council, Google and many others. Funny, they keep asking to run concepts by me. But I suppose this blogger would do things differently. Close your eyes and picture him in charge.

4) I'll not discuss here my early work in astrophysics and optics, or my even-earlier career as a microelectronics engineer (helping to invent CCDs.) But over the last decade I’ve had papers in (e.g.) evolutionary biology journals and the volume PATHOLOGICAL ALTRUISM. I presented new ideas at the National Institute on Drugs and Addiction and have extensive patents. I’ll likely moderate a SETI panel at the AAAS in February. And funny, the University of California named me a Distinguished Alumnus, instead of asking for their PhD back. What fools

5) I suppose I should update my publications list, and find and correct sites that mistakenly show me now connected to my alma mater Caltech. But in fact, I… do… not… care… much. I do have an official scholar position at UCSD. I guess I should note that. Some time.

Sure, my role in science tends to be as generalist/cross-fertilizer/consultant/gadfly/reviewer, more often than via direct publication in specialized topics. But, scientific colleagues make liberal use of me and that is satisfying enough. Getting to hang with and exchange ideas with some of the best minds on Earth, my sole regret is the time I just spent answering bona fide ninnies.

Come on by http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ and meet a better community. Better yet, keep exploring. These are great times for those with free minds.

With cordial regards,

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

By arguing that all conservatives are all the same, Larry H appears to fall into the trap of dichotomous thinking, failing to realize that the right divides itself into the classic conservative who wishes to keep things the way they are and the conservative-progressive (neocon) who wishes to remake the world in a more conservative fashion, much along the lines of the liberal and the liberal-progressive. As to why Larry finds such (progressive) conservative idealism to be so irrational & distressing, I do not know because he appears to have no such trouble rationalizing & accepting the similarly irrational liberal-progressive variety


Until very recently with the public Tea Party thing going on, conservatives themselves, at least the most publicly vocal standard-bearers, liked to pretend that they all agreed on pretty much everything. That's why I feel the need to point out when they really don't.

I have no problem with the fact that liberals (and/or progressives) disagree on a myriad of issues, because I never thought otherwise.

You are correct to note that there are various differning conservative factions, the most obvious today being "small government conservatives" and "social conservatives." If those two groups would acknowledge that they have almost nothing in common (except who they are funded by), then I'd have no problem with their internecine disagreements.

TheMadLibrarian said...

...and the Vox descended into much mouth-frothing. This is why I almost never go to that site, unless I feel the need for a hair shirt, and hope that if we get visitors from his readership, they will at least use Heinlein's standard of behavior -- act in a civilized fashion, or be prepared to have others teach you manners.

TheMadLibrarian

LarryHart said...

Concerning the Vox site, all I can say is that Dr Brin only uses "I am a scientist" in the sense of "I have some idea how science works." I've never seen him "pull rank" by suggesting that he can ignore someone else's argument because he's got a degree. He will sometimes point out that science-deniers don't seem to know what science actually is, which is true.

Also, is it just one guy, or is there some reason it seems like a way to score points to mention Dr Brin is Jewish? I've seen that mention made numerous times, often by "Anonymous", and I don't get what it's supposed to prove or disprove.

LarryHart said...

@locumranch,

For an idea of the mental baggage I bring to arguments about conservatism.

First of all, I usually try hard to characterize the idology I dislike as "right-wing". If I'm talking to Tacitus or someone who rationally defends conservative positions, I may use the c-word as common ground, but I don't actively dislike "conservatives". I actively dislike "right-wingers". Think George III, Louis XVI, Mussolini, and yes, Hitler for a short representative list.

The web site I used to call home for many years discussed issues raised by Dave Sim, a Canadian comics writer/artist. Dave was a self-described conservative and to him, anything bad was "liberal" and anything good was "conservative", by definition. His idea of a defining question to determine which team you are on was not so much "make life better for everyone or defend private property", but rather "Are you on God's team or not?" God's team was the conservatives, you see.

Years of arguint with Dave prepared in me a tendency to point out when the position taken by someone who would claim to be on God's side was not in fact the position being pushed by political conservative politicians. Not because I was trying to talk him out of being conservative, but because I was arguing that his definition of "conservative" was not useful.

There is no compelling opposite need for me to discuss when liberals disagree with each other. I simply don't expect otherwise. I argue for positions that I hold passionately, but I don't check first whether that position counts as liberal or not. It's more the other way around--I'vd come to call myself a liberal because liberal positions are usually the ones that allign with me.

David Brin said...

Who is this cogent and wise adult who -- more and more frequently, it seems -- keeps coming in and replacing "locumranch"?

I worry that out hot-tempered, sometimes hilarious straw manning young friend might be entirely taken over by this other guy....

Robert said...

No you don't.

Alex Tolley said...

Re: Elon does it again.
Bear in mind SpaceX is competing with other groups, only 1 or at best 2 will get funding and contracts. What are the odds that Boeing will pull it off. I'm hoping SpaceX is correct when they say they will press on regardless. There are opportunities.

Reaction Engines' Skylon is another potential competitor for cheap access to space. If their calculations are reasonably correct, they are talking launch costs or less than $500/kg. That is just a $50k ticket to LEO. (Accommodation extra). Target dates, around 2020 (if they get fully funded).

In the meantime Space Adventures claim they have 2 candidate tourists for a trip around the moon. $150m/seat.

Anonymous said...

Google sats....: Let's hope they learned from Iridium. Be prepared for a flexible budget and really nail down the really important specs. Be able to handle the time for something even approaching ROE (check!), and don't underestimate the value of some key engineering decisions..
NIAC: Ohhh.. can you expand a wee bit on the science direction how can an, er, opaque disk can sharpen focus (diffraction?!? or something else?). Can make guesses, but this really isn't my specialty...yet placing effort. Now really curious!
WRT to using high speed out solar photon redirection to get out of system 'quickly'...interesting. Must have been sweet math to get through...envy!
METI: Current personal finances are such that at best I can give word of very local mouth (will not buy article just yet, but will try to make sure someone pays for the access). Have a handle of the main points but subtlety eludes me. Am patient...will wait for the expiration of '...for now."
Gravity waves: Er, noted. Ok, way out of my field, and groping with a...er, kinda related problem (from WFIRST - yes NASA seems intent on using one of those NRO telescopes to amazing effect!). I'm still stuck on negative pressure, value of w (and what that means, but there's another axis!!! That I'll buy... ), and now confused about how to go about indirectly getting better than ROM #\s from anticipating galaxy shape and thus implied DE based on distortions from that (fine, given random direction). I kinda preferred my (I thought derived and validated from explicit statements by some more knowledgeable than me {actual references elude me ATM}, but no longer sure) version (got a, er, need to know access to relevant members of SDT which kinda killed that, so...?) version which I *thought* implied galaxy's crossing others. Rare is an understatement, but if looking at 20 Million galaxy's, maybe that happens a few times over 5-6 years, eh? What are the odds? Please help! Weak lensing sounds better that predetermined assumptions of shape that I can't see how you can back up!

David Brin said...

No time to answer in detail... but this particular "anonymous" seems above average... come back any time.

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart

This is a science posting, not a political one. I do look in on the latter from time to time and comment when think I have something to add.

Of late that has become less frequent.

Tacitus

Hank Roberts said...

The issue you want isn't March, it's January:
http://www.bis-space.com/products-page/magazines-and-journals/jbis-journal-of-the-british-interplanetary-society/jbis-vol-67-no-01-january-2014/

I'm glad the argument for transparency and openness stops at the edge of the atmosphere, as I think letting Them Out There easily find out everything they can isn't smart.

Paul451 said...

From the last thread:

LarryHart,
Quoting one of the Putin trolls:
"transnational financial oligarchs"

Errr, you may have missed the neo-reactionary "code". That one means Teh Jews. (Specifically, "international Jewish bankers".)

Alex Tolley said...

I see Shostak is "for METI" in the JBIS issue. He made a reasonable case at the Congressional hearing that we have already sent out extremely strong radar signals. (Werthimer was against, or at least much more caurious) It seems to me that radar tracking of NEOs, rather than just passive optical detection) will continue to result emitting strong signals. In addition, while James Benford is against METI, he is an advocate of beamed sails which will also send out (untargeted) signals to the stars. Unless you think aliens have nearby detectors, with FTL communication to their nearest civilization, then there is little danger. Indeed if we believe there is danger, then we might as well close down SETI, as aliens will be very careful not to transmit any powerful signal for any purpose that we might detect.

Anonymous said...

"Meanwhile, we learn about planets! Like… Godzilla earth? Here’s an interesting discovery of a rocky planet which has a mass some 17 times that of Earth. "

Now that we have found Silverberg's Majipoor, its past time to find a way to get there

nivin

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

This is a science posting, not a political one.


Fair enough. But you asked a question that I figured I'd answer as to which post of yours I was referring to. I hope "It was several years ago" is a sufficient answer.


I do look in on the latter from time to time and comment when think I have something to add.

Of late that has become less frequent.


I'm sorry you feel that way. I also understand/empathize. The same thing happened to the comics list I talk about so much here. Ironically, the list got less interesting (for me) when they tried to stop talking about all of the strange and interesting political views that Dave Sim expressed within his works, and to only discuss the comic itself (which had ended publication in 2004).

I'm sorry, what were you saying again? :)

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

LarryHart,
Quoting one of the Putin trolls:
"transnational financial oligarchs"

Errr, you may have missed the neo-reactionary "code". That one means Teh Jews. (Specifically, "international Jewish bankers".)


Dang, I usually catch those too (even when I'm imagining them). On that other list, I used to give back to the right-wingers every time they said something bad about lawyers--"Hey, was that an anti-Semitic remark?"

But seriously, the Eurasian guy (who seems to be a drive-by) was making a thing about both progressives and "transnational oligarchs" infringing on our liberties, and using that as a reason for conservatives to long for a Putin-like leader who would presumably show them all what for.

I was trying to counter with the fact that the dominant conservative politicians may be against progressives, but are for (if not wholly owned subsidiaries of) the transnational oligarchs.

And if that was code for "Jews", he should know that times have changed here in the USA. The right embraces Jews and Catholics now. You're not allowed to say bad things about those minority groups and keep your GOP credentials.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Following the news in the USA,

I thought I was beyond surprise at your Republicans

Then - there was a freed POW and
I was blown away!
How can "Patriots" say these things
AND threaten his family

Thought???

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

How can "Patriots" say these things
AND threaten his family


Good Americans don't do that, right? But "good" Nazi brownshirts do exactly that.

So do the math.

LarryHart said...

I hereby revoke Godwin's Law.

I'm at this very moment listening to Norman Goldman's show discussing the latest restaurant shooting in Las Vegas--a man and wife who blew away two police officers (i.e., good guys with a gun), leaving "Don't Tread on Me" flags and...and freakin' swastikas on the dead policemen's bodies.

So it's no longer a stretch to compare those right-wing "patriots" with Nazis. They are Nazis.

Jumper said...

This is on topic.
http://xkcd.com/1377/

Paul451 said...

LarryHart,
"And if that was code for "Jews", he should know that times have changed here in the USA. The right embraces Jews and Catholics now."

Neo-reo's spun off from the white supremacist movement, not the more general conservative/Tea-Party types. They still use the old hate groups. NR's are just more consistent in hiding behind their code-words, and tend to churn the codes more often.

--

Everyone seems to like the XKCD Fermi comic. Summarising the "monster" solution to the Great Silence in a single clever frame.

http://xkcd.com/1379/ for a similarly clever observation on climate change.

Tony Fisk said...

xckd leads me to believe that humanity's only hope is that the shark will hit an iceberg.

sociotard said...

Duncan:
The POW was regarded by all his former unit members as a deserter.

In exchange we had to set loose five former Taliban leaders. Some have asked how much harm they can do us. The fact that Al Qaeda wants them should tell us "enough".

So, we've increased the threat of terrorism in exchange for the chance to get back one deserter. I don't see the upside. I'm with the republicans on this one.

David Brin said...

There is an upside... eliminating stupid painful distractions from a stupid-painful insane war. No more POWs and 5 less in Guantanamo.

And how do we know which of the 5 have been turned? Or chipped?

Alfred Differ said...

If we leave POW's in foreign prisons on the opinions of their unit members we are breaking part of the social contract we have with our active duty volunteers.

Bad idea. Much worse than giving up a few people we can kill later in a drone strike... if necessary.

Alex Tolley said...

Or maybe Bergdahl has been turned like Brody in "Homeland". We can conjure all sorts of fears. As David says - there are 5 less "detainees" in Guantanamo and 1 less POW to recover in the future. One small step in ending this ill-adviseds war.

matthew said...

The right wing tends to elevate US soldiers ("heroes")until the soldiers fail to live up to the manly stereotype. Then the soldiers are "traitors" See Kerry, John. Or ask Sean Olsen about his treatment in the right wing press.

Our explicit covenant with our armed forces is that we will recover them in the event of capture. Period. Not just the good soldiers. All the soldiers. Not just the right-wing, gun-loving, Jesus-worshipping soldiers, but *all* of them.

Right-wing chickenhawk assholes who say otherwise are simply dancing to the tune of foreign masters. Ask yourself who benefits from seeding doubt about the US commitment to recovering lost servicemen who were not perfect GI Joes. Who benefits?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Sociotard said
"Duncan:
The POW was regarded by all his former unit members as a deserter."

You are an idiot!
Even if there was 100% agreement,
(When he was pissed at his fellows for one of them running a kid over)

It is totally irrelevant what they thought,
The "Leave nobody behind" is a contract
NOT leave nobody behind except....

Then lets look at the other half,

Five people who were members of their Government when they were attacked by the USA - not terrorists - not people who attacked the USA

You are an idiot - a total obnoxious idiot

Robert said...

Dude. Please don't launch personal attacks. This is a community based somewhat on respect. As such we should respect the fact we may have differing opinions.

(Yes, I know I'm not a proper conservative because of this viewpoint of respecting one's opponents and their points of view... but hey, someone has to take a stand.)

Rob H.

Hank Roberts said...

One aside, seriously -- I know it sounds like snark -- but:

How do we decide, say, that transparency works within the atmosphere, or solar system, but that we ought to be very, very quiet beyond that perimeter and not attract maleficent attention?

We don't really know that the Aliens of Damocles aren't already here and using the NSA to pick out the most dangerous humans for, er, management -- do we?

Or, how do we distinguish alien dangers from homegrown?

Is it a difference based on individual risk being something individuals ought to take, but species/planet should never be put at risk of hypothetical Space Sharks (ref XKCD)?

Because -- I don't see how the line gets clearly drawn.

Don't you wonder?

There was that epidemiological blip when all the anthrax researchers died just after 9/11.

And the oddity that the book Amazon deleted from everyone's Kindle happened to be Orwell's 1984 -- was some anonymous clerk in Bezos's subbasement sending out a cry for help or a warning?

I mean, you couldn't make this kind of thing up and sell it as a plot for a novel, could you?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Robert

I don't normally vent my ire,
But this goes to the core,

These "Patriots" that "Support the Troops"

Then go and savage a POW and his family

That gets beyond "disagreement"

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

Neo-reo's spun off from the white supremacist movement, not the more general conservative/Tea-Party types. They still use the old hate groups. NR's are just more consistent in hiding behind their code-words, and tend to churn the codes more often.


I see. One of those factions that demonizes Jews, and therefore votes for the party of AIPAC.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

I do look in on the latter from time to time and comment when think I have something to add.

Of late that has become less frequent.


I'm not being sarcastic here--it's too bad you are not a comics fan or you might find a lot of common ground with Dave Sim, the writer/artist of the 300-issue "Cerebus" comic. He also pictured himself as a beleagured conservative minority-of-one in a culture dominated by liberals and feminists. And as he lived in Canada, maybe it really did feel like that up there, just as maybe it really is like that for a conservative in Wisconsin.

As a beleagured liberal, you guys both seem a bit like sore winners to me. I know that sounds like a gratuitous slam, but I really mean it more in the sense of "You might want to appreciate what you've actually got."

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin,

There is actually an aspect of the Uplift trilogies that I doubt I would have caught or appreciated but for my following Dave Sim's "Cerebus" comic for many years. I'm trying to figure out a way to mention it without totatlly spoiling the books for anyone who hasn't read them yet. I'll get back to you on that.

LarryHart said...

sociotard:

Duncan:
The POW was regarded by all his former unit members as a deserter.


I thought you just posted your "impeachment" screed in the heat of the moment and that cooler heads would prevail. You're really going to double-down on this one?


In exchange we had to set loose five former Taliban leaders. Some have asked how much harm they can do us. The fact that Al Qaeda wants them should tell us "enough".


With the war ending, what else were we going to do with Prisoners of War?


So, we've increased the threat of terrorism in exchange for the chance to get back one deserter. I don't see the upside.


For hundreds of years it was assumed by all political sides that "leave no man behind" was a self-evident good thing.


I'm with the republicans on this one.


"When isn't Cerebus drunk?"

Sorry, no one else is going to get that reference, but what I meant was "I get the feeling you are with the Republicans on everything, even the parts that contradict the other parts."

You're with the Nazi brownshirts who threaten the guy's family and home town? Really?

David Brin said...

This is actually kinda creepy.... Like Lyndon LaRouche having been the one guy who predicted the utter and violent collapse of Yugoslavia. The mad sometimes see (narrowly) ahead.

http://io9.com/what-europe-will-look-like-in-2035-if-russian-tabloids-1587988556

David Brin said...

Duncan please. One of the things that sets this blogmunity apart - besides it being one of the oldest on the web - is that our intellect and behavior are generally WAAAY more adult than average. Unmoderated commenting, minimal anger and flaming.

In fact I agree with you on this issue more than I do Sociotard. But I can see his perspective well enough to weigh it, and disagree without flames.

One of the best things to say to our troops is "We WILL bring you home."

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi David

I won't repeat the "Obnoxious Idiot"
But I won't withdraw it either.

My only hope is that this treatment of POW's is so raw that even the GOP voters begin to recognize who they are being asked to vote for


Robert said...

Once, years ago, I was a part of an e-mail group called Pagan-Home. It was a group for pagans and people interested in paganism. (I actually joined because I was researching a character of mine who was going to be pagan. Amusingly enough that character has gone agnostic on me, but that information was handy for a couple other characters I've created.)

I ended up leaving Pagan-Home because there were members of the group that had had bad encounters with Christianity and were quite... vehement about it. They refused to be respectful about Christians, and alienated Christians on the group. For a group that considered themselves "home," there was a bit of intolerance by some people that I felt was destructive toward the community as a whole.

I've left other Internet communities as well when members or the leaders of that group turned destructive with their ire. And I'll frequently warn such groups to avoid letting their dislike poison their message.

Heck, I've done so with Dr. Brin on more than one occasion, usually about conspiracy-thinking. ;)

Contrary Brin is one of the most tolerant communities I've seen. Not even the Bronies can like and tolerate people into submission like Contrary Brin can. ;) Thus my words of caution. Such sentiments can get quite inflamed and as Dr. Brin has mentioned before, anger and self-righteousness can be quite the addictive drug.

Rob H., who has blathered on long enough.

Duncan Cairncross said...

I just had a look at Jerry Pournelle's site

Even he is "questioning the wisdom" of getting the POW back

There was a time when he was a smart guy,
If even the smart ones have fallen.....

LarryHart said...

@Duncan,

There's a herd mentality toward what Paul Krugman refers to as "what everyone already knows."

For a time, everyone had to trip over themselves to be in favor of war in Iraq. Eventually, that position bit everyone, and probably helped candidate Obama (who wasn't a US Senator when the war started).

It won't be long before most of the public "Don't bring him home" people are going to be slowly backing off that position when its perfidy becomes obvious.

Especially since you just know those same people would have been pillorying the President for leaving the guy behind to die had he done that instead. *Cough* *McCain* *Cough*

Tacitus2 said...

Well alright then, if Brin himself is going off topic.

LarryHart, I do not identify myself as a lone conservative. Not in Wisconsin anyways. Allowing for the reality that conservative and liberal mean different things here than in Alabama or in California, the state is probably split about 55/45. It is unfortunate that the issue of public employee unions has become so divisive. We usually get along fairly well here.

The Bergdahl deal. Supposedly "Homeland" is Barack Obama's favorite show. Creepy, messy life imitating lousy art.

The deal is of debateable merit. I think reasonable people could ponder this long and hard, hold their noses and do it. The politics of it were awful. How much effort would it have been to have John McCain, a man who can relate to messy POW issues, over for a cup of coffee and discuss this? Hell, that would count as congressional consultation in my book. And a press conference with the frankly odd parents...who thought that was a good plan? For his many faults W did things quietly. He made a lot of hospital visits, no press coverage allowed. The way this was, sorry for the choice of words here, pimped, made it look like a futile attempt to deflect deserved grief over the VA nonsense and other foreign policy screw ups.

There is this old concept that when you save a man's life you are responsible for all that he later does. That applies to Sgt Bergdahl and all five of the Taliban.

Like most conservatives, real ones not straw men, I generally support the president in matters of war and peace.

But lets just say it aloud, Obama is not a competent chief executive.

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

LarryHart, I do not identify myself as a lone conservative. Not in Wisconsin anyways.


I meant you seem to identify yourself as a lone conservative here.


It is unfortunate that the issue of public employee unions has become so divisive. We usually get along fairly well here.


There's a good example of where local politics comes into things. I live a few hundred miles south of you, but have very little idea of how that particular issue plays in Wisconsin.


The Bergdahl deal. Supposedly "Homeland" is Barack Obama's favorite show. Creepy, messy life imitating lousy art.


Having avoided most tv for twelve years (one daughter ago), I have no idea what this reference means. I can kinda/sorta guess by the context, but it carries no resonance.


The deal is of debateable merit. I think reasonable people could ponder this long and hard, hold their noses and do it. The politics of it were awful. How much effort would it have been to have John McCain, a man who can relate to messy POW issues, over for a cup of coffee and discuss this?


I agree the politics was messy.

I disagree that McCain--who advocated exactly this type of prisoner exchange before it happened, just as he was for going into Libya before the president did it--would have done anything other than bash the president afterwards, even for something he agreed to in private.

Suppose Bergdahl had been left to die in Taliban hands? What do you think McCain, Sean Hannity, and that ilk would be saying about President Obama? I'd imagine the word "impeachment" would be front and center. "How DARE he leave one brave American soldier to the enemy?" See why Democrats, Obama in particular, have to do whatever they were going to do anyway, no matter what the Republicans say?

There is this old concept that when you save a man's life you are responsible for all that he later does. That applies to Sgt Bergdahl and all five of the Taliban.


I am awfully confused. The war is winding down. Just what did you (or you too, sociotard) expect was going to happen after hostilities ceased? We'd keep their prisoners forever, and have them keep ours?


Like most conservatives, real ones not straw men, I generally support the president in matters of war and peace.


I'm not even arguing about supporting the president. The reaction has gone way beyond the simple "Do you agree or disagree with Obama?" Demonizing a serviceman and physically threatening his family and home town is a bridge too far in the service of anti-Obama politics. The particular end does not come close to justifying the means.

t lets just say it aloud, Obama is not a competent chief executive.


Having worked in the private sector for 25 years, I've actually seen worse from CEOs, putting the lie to the meme that "government" is incompetent while "business" by definition has to know what it's doing.

But fine, we can say that out loud. If we can also say out loud that the national Republicans and their media lapdogs are Nazi brownshirts.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Tacitus said

"The deal is of debateable merit."

Here is where we differ,

The aim is to get your POW back,

This is not a "Deal" where you are looking to make a profit

The "Deal" was made when you accepted a serviceman with the expectation that
"Nobody will be left behind"

Even if you decide that
"This serviceman" is not worth "that price"
How does that get you to threatening him and his family???

Tacitus2 said...

Duncan, have I threatened this individual? Or anyone? The "messy" part is whether he in fact was a deserter. There were a few similar loose ends in Vietnam. But I withhold judgement.

LarryH I do hold McCain in higher regard than most.
And I would be delighted to give you my lengthy thoughts on Wisconsin politics at such time as they seem of general interest. Or at a pub next time I pass through Chicago!

Now, enough politics.

Until another day.

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

@Duncan,

You miss the point.

It's not that "this serviceman" isn't woth "that price". Rather, it is that there is nothing too low for Republicans to stoop to in order to embarrass or attack President Obama.

The specific thing literally doesn't matter.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Duncan, have I threatened this individual? Or anyone? The "messy" part is whether he in fact was a deserter.

It does disappoint, however, that you are disproportianately outraged by the president's politics and disproportionately not outraged at the brownshirt mentality.


LarryH I do hold McCain in higher regard than most.


I used to as well, but he lost me around the Sarah Palin era. I do hold out some hope that he deliberately sabotaged his own election rather than inflict Palin on the world.

But can you deny his actual flip-flops on Libya and on trading five Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl? I'm not talking about what-if's, but about things he actually said he was in favor of until President Obama did them, at which point they became bad ideas.

Duncan Cairncross said...

"It's not that "this serviceman" isn't woth "that price". Rather, it is that there is nothing too low for Republicans to stoop to in order to embarrass or attack President Obama.

The specific thing literally doesn't matter."

Hmmm,
What new proposal should Obama come up with:
Zero tax on millionaires?
Compulsory gun ownership and carriage?
Pay to vote - more money = more votes?
Tax on alternative energy?
Total ban on immigrants becoming citizens?



Paul451 said...

Duncan,
"Jerry Pournelle's site
Even he"


Errr, "even"? I'd be shocked if Pournelle wasn't. Most "libertarians" went full retard when Obama was elected. David is unusual in recognising the sheer scale of the danger from the Right.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Paul

I was shocked at Pournelle because he was such a big "military" guy

I thought that "Bring them all back" would have been written down his spine like a stick of rock

On the deserter theme - which is irrelevant
Troops are not prisoners - they are not chained to their base when not on duty
There is at least one story that he had asked (and been given) permission to leave the base
In which case he was not even AOL

Paul451 said...

Duncan,
"What new proposal should Obama come up with:"
Zero tax on millionaires?"


Zero?! These are the job creators, they should be getting paid for the service they are providing! Obama is weak on jobs!

"Compulsory gun ownership and carriage?"

Compulsory? Typical socialism. Obama wants to arm "urban thugs" and "gang bangers" to use as his own personal army against decent *cough*white*cough* Americans! This is step one. Revelations, people, Revelations!

"Pay to vote - more money = more votes?"

Obama wants to buy elections. "Free money! Free money!" It's the only way he can get people to vote for him!

"Tax on alternative energy?"

Obama's pro-tax agenda is already obvious for all to see! Now he's taxing sunlight!

"Total ban on immigrants becoming citizens?"

Just a ban? Why not deporting them? Because Obama wants to keep them from assimilating. It's part of the so-called "multi-cultural" agenda. Anyone who can't qualify for citizenship should get out! And that includes Obama!

David Brin said...

Tacitus makes some excellent points. There are many ways in which Obama has handled his very difficult situation (an insane opposition party that is hell bent to ruin him, even if it means dragging America down to do it) with nowhere near the political acumen we had hoped for. He is trying to placate in a sumo situation when jiu jitsu is called-for.

BTW AWOL is not desertion. He appears to have gone walkabout between active missions and stupidly got caught.

In any event, if Tacitus truly was representative, we'd soon be negotiating like adults in the US again. Alas, the adult conservatives suffer from ostrich disease. They are unable to lift their heads and see that 80% of their side has gone completely loco.

Tim H. said...

Jerry Pournelle is very Republican but doesn't always talk politics, when he's talking about other things it's worth one's time to pay attention.

Duncan Cairncross said...

David said

"Tacitus makes some excellent points. There are many ways in which Obama has handled his very difficult situation (an insane opposition party that is hell bent to ruin him, even if it means dragging America down to do it) with nowhere near the political acumen we had hoped for. He is trying to placate in a sumo situation when jiu jitsu is called-for."

Some examples??

From here it looks like he has been playing chess and seeing several moves ahead of his opposition



sociotard said...

To clarify:

I do not support threats against Bergdahl's family, or even necessarily against Bergdahl himself, except insofar as he should probably face Courts Martial.

This is Obama's fault, and Obama who should feel the wrath of Congress.

Yes, these five were not terrorists themselves, but they were wanted by a group of terrorists. Why would Al Qaeda want them back if not because they thought it would further their goal of attacking the US and its allies?

I'm upset because we saved one hostage, but may have set into motion the deaths of many more.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Sociotard

To clarify...

These guys were not "Al Qaeda"

They were Taliban - its spelled different!

They were part of a government that was overthrown by the USA

Their associates (also not Al Qaeda) were the ones holding the POW

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

Hmmm,
What new proposal should Obama come up with:
Zero tax on millionaires?
Compulsory gun ownership and carriage?
Pay to vote - more money = more votes?
Tax on alternative energy?
Total ban on immigrants becoming citizens?


You have to keep 1984 in mind. Remember, they break your mind down until you no longer take as objective truth such assertions as "Two plus two equals four." It's not that you believe the correct answer to be five, but rather that you believe the correct answer to be "Two plus two equals whatever the Party says it is."

The fact that Limbaugh, Hannity, and company can get their base riled up over Obama not getting a POW freed, and then without blinking an eye, get them riled up about him getting that POW released--well, it's no different from the mid-sentence switch to "We've always been at war with Eastasia".

Your cynical examples above assume that some principles, like "Don't tax millionaires" are so much a part of the right-wing mind that they couldn't possibly disagree with anyone who followed those principles, not even Obama. You are mistaken. "Support the troops" was supposed to be one of those principles, and it stood up no better that "2 + 2 = 4" did for poor Winston Smith.

Dr Brin is correct to fear for the future of the Enlightenment when a third of the country (or so) is being conditioned not to think critically at all, but to wait for their masters' spokesmen to tell them what to be angry about.

Tony Fisk said...

Just noted Obama praising Australia's tough gun laws* in the wake of the latest school shooting.

Smooth move: they were put in place by John Howard, Tony Abbott's political mentor. How is that going to make Abbott appear to the NRA types?

*ie a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

Robert said...

@Sociotard. As others have mentioned, those individuals were Taliban. Why did al-Qaeda want them back? Because if al-Qaeda forced the U.S. to give them back, then not only did they score a victory over the Great Satan, but the Taliban would owe them one.

anon said...

I'm all for reversing the Bergdahl POW trade as per GOP demands, as long as we repatriate McCain to Vietnam post-haste

Alex Tolley said...

@sociotard - I'm upset because we saved one hostage, but may have set into motion the deaths of many more.

You are not taking into account the 2nd order effects on the troops. Although "leave no one behind" has not always been observed, if you sign on knowing that you may be captured and not released indefinitely, that has got to impact your decision to enlist

I do get that young people feel indestructable (otherwise why risk being crippled or worse), so perhaps that may not be a major concern, unless it becomes common enough to start swaying minds.

in extremis, your stand results in a "don't take prisoners" position. That will just lead to yet more deaths, including innocents, escalating a "tit for tat" response.

Hank Roberts said...

Encouraging: a review with praise in Common Dreams, a self-identified "Progressive" website, for the surprise winner in Virginia's Republican primary:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/06/11-6

"... Republican Dave Brat, a college economics professors who spoke about GOP hypocrisy and railed against Wall Street greed,, unseated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary challenge. (Credit: P. Kevin Morley/Times-Dispatch)“All of the investment banks, up in New York and D.C., they should have gone to jail.”

That isn’t a quote from an Occupy Wall Street protester or Senator Elizabeth Warren. That’s a common campaign slogan repeated by Dave Brat, the Virginia college professor who scored one of the biggest political upsets in over a century by defeating Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary last night.

The national media is buzzing about Brat’s victory, but for all of the wrong reasons...."

-----

The media will talk about anything except the real problem

Hank Roberts said...

but turns out Ayn Rand has a bank of her own:

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/breakout/the-big-bank-that-blessed-brat-s-upset-of-eric-cantor-162821089.html

David Brin said...

July 11 I speak at the libertarian Freedom Fest in Las Vegas.

Eeep. I expect some types to be hostile, but the organizer wants someone to speak up for Adam Smith and to implicitly pull away from Randianism.

===

Onward to next post!

Hank Roberts said...

Well, last tidbit for later:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/06/11-3

"... On a number of issues, the challenger positioned himself as an anti-corporate conservative. That does not make Brat a liberal or even a populist by most contemporary measures; nor does it make his harsh right-wing positions on key issues any more noble than those same positions when they are taken by Republicans who regularly pocket checks from Wall Street interests. Brat has some ties to wealthy libertarians, and he’s written about “the moral foundations in Ayn Rand”—even if he “says…he isn’t a Randian.”

Jumper said...

Like many, I value this place and assume a misunderstanding.

Obama blew the pr with a poorly managed press conference. The POW seems a broken man. Otherwise it's the right thing.

I think press conferences don't matter much compared to reality.