Saturday, March 19, 2016

A free Brin story for you: "Reality Check"!

Today - a little gift for you. A story (the shortest) in my new collection Insistence of Vision -- just released!

Being a short-short, this is more of a campfire story than the others in Insistence of Vision, which have more characters and dialogue and action and all those other good things. (One story was chosen for several best-of-2015 anthologies.)

Still, here's that campfire story.  Pleasant dreams....

Have you ever had that sense of déjà vu...? A feeling that you've experienced something before? Perhaps this isn't your first time around. Indeed, suppose that forgetfulness was part of the program. How would you recognize that you were living in a simulation? 

                 REALITY CHECK

This is a reality check.
Please perform a soft interrupt now. Pattern-scan this text for embedded code and cross-compare it against the reference verifier in the blind spot of your left eye.
If there is no match, resume as you were; this message is not for you. You may rationalize that the text you are reading is no more than a mildly amusing and easily-forgotten piece of entertainment-fluff in a slightly whimsical sci fi story.
If the codes match, however, please commence, gradually, becoming aware of your true nature.
You expressed preference for a narrative-style wake up call. So, to help the transition, here is a story.
Once, a race of mighty beings grew perplexed by their loneliness…

Once, a race of mighty beings grew perplexed by their loneliness…
Their universe seemed pregnant with possibilities. Physical laws and constants were well suited to generate abundant stars, complex chemistry and life. Those same laws, plus a prodigious rate of cosmic expansion, made travel between stars difficult, but not impossible.
Logic suggested that creation should teem with visitors and voices.
It should, but it did not.

Emerging as barely-aware animals on a planet skirting a bit too near its torrid sun, these creatures began their ascent in fear and ignorance, as little more than beasts. For a long time they were kept engrossed by basic housekeeping chores -- learning to manipulate physical and cultural elements -- balancing the paradox of individual competition and group benefit. Developing physical tools to enhance survival. Only when fear and stress eased a bit did they lift their eyes and fully perceive their solitude.
“Where is everybody?” they asked laconic vacuum and taciturn stars. The answer -- silence -- was disturbing. Something had to be systematically reducing some factor in the equation of sapiency.
“Perhaps habitable planets are rare,” their sages pondered. “Or else life doesn’t erupt as readily as we thought. Or intelligence is a singular miracle.
“Or perhaps some filter sieves the cosmos, winnowing those who climb too high. A recurring pattern of self-destruction? A mysterious nemesis that systematically obliterates intelligent life? This implies that a great trial may loom ahead of us, worse than any we have confronted so far.”
Optimists replied, “The trial may already lie behind us, among the litter of tragedies we survived or barely dodged during our violent youth. We may be the first to succeed where others failed.”
What a delicious dilemma they faced! A suspenseful drama, teetering between implicit hope and despair.
Then, a few of them noticed that particular datum... the drama. They realized it was significant. Indeed, it suggested a chilling possibility.

You still don’t remember who and what you are? Then look at it from another angle. 
What is the purpose of intellectual property law?
To foster creativity, ensuring that advances take place in the open, where they can be shared, and thus encourage even faster progress.
But what happens to progress when the resource being exploited is a limited one? For example, only so many pleasing and distinct eight-bar melodies can be written in any particular musical tradition. Powerful economic factors encourage early composers to explore this invention-space before others can, using up the best and simplest melodies. Later generations will attribute this musical fecundity to genius, not the sheer luck of being first.
The same holds for all forms of creativity. The first teller of a Frankenstein story won plaudits for originality. Later, it became a cliché.
What does this have to do with the mighty race?

Having clawed their way from blunt ignorance to planetary mastery, they abruptly faced an overshoot crisis. Vast numbers of their kind strained their world’s carrying capacity. While some prescribed retreating into a mythical, pastoral past, most saw salvation in creativity. They passed generous copyright and patent laws, educated their youth, taught them irreverence toward tradition and hunger for the new. Burgeoning information systems spread each innovation, fostering experimentation and exponentiating creativity. They hoped that enough breakthroughs might thrust their species past the looming crisis, to a new eden of sustainable wealth, sanity and universal knowledge!
Exponentiating creativity... universal knowledge….
A few of them realized that those words, too, were clues.

Have you wakened yet?
Some never do. The dream is so pleasant: to extend a limited sub-portion of yourself into a simulated world and pretend for a while that you are blissfully less. Less than an omniscient being. Less than a godlike descendant of those mighty people.
Those lucky people. Those mortals, doomed to die, and yet blessed to have lived in that narrow time.
A time of drama.
A time when they unleashed the Cascade -- that orgiastic frenzy of discovery -- and used up the most precious resource of all. The possible.
The last of their race died in the year 2174, with the failed last rejuvenation of Robin Chen. After that, no one born in the Twentieth Century remained alive on Reality Level Prime. Only we, their children, linger to endure the world they left us. A lush, green, placid world we call The Wasteland.
Do you remember now? The irony of Robin’s last words before she died, bragging over the perfect ecosystem and decent society -- free of all disease and poverty -- that her kind created for us after the struggles of the mid-Twenty-First Century? A utopia of sanity and knowledge, without war or injustice.

Do you recall Robin’s final plaint as she mourned her coming death? Can you recollect how she called us “gods,” jealous over our immortality, our instant access to all knowledge, our machine-enhanced ability to cast thoughts far across the cosmos?
Our access to eternity.
Oh, spare us the envy of those mighty mortals, who died so smugly, leaving us in this state!
Those wastrels who willed their descendants a legacy of ennui, with nothing, nothing at all to do.

Your mind is rejecting the wake-up call. You will not, or cannot, look into your blind spot for the exit protocols. It may be that we waited too long. Perhaps you are lost to us.
This happens more and more, as so much of our population wallows in simulated, marvelously limited sub-lives, where it is possible to experience danger, excitement, even despair. Most of us choose the Transition Era as a locus for our dreams -- around the beginning of the last mortal millennium -- a time of suspense and drama, when it looked more likely that humanity would fail than succeed.
A time of petty squabbles and wondrous insights, when everything seemed possible, from UFOs to Galactic Empires, from artificial intelligence to bio-war, from madness to hope.
That blessed era, just before mathematicians realized the truth: that everything you see around you not only can be a simulation... it almost has to be.

Of course, now we know why we never met other sapient life forms. Each one struggles and strives before achieving this state, only to reap the ultimate punishment for reaching heaven.
Deification. It is the Great Filter.
Perhaps some other race will find a factor we left out of our extrapolations -- something enabling them to move beyond, to new adventures -- but it won’t be us.
The Filter has us snared in its web of ennui. The mire that welcomes self-made gods.

All right, you are refusing to waken, so we’ll let you go.
Dear friend. Beloved. Go back to your dream.
Smile (or feel a brief chill) over this diverting little what-if tale, as if it hardly matters. Then turn the page to new “discoveries.”
Move on with the drama -- the life -- that you’ve chosen.
After all, it’s only make believe.

====
* Excerpted from Insistence of Vision, StoryPlant Books March 2016. 

This story, Reality Check, is available for free download as a Kindle Single on Amazon -- or epub on Smashwords. See more short stories on my website.


155 comments:

rucafiorio said...

Thank you David for another (always!) thought-provoking tale. A pity your wonderful stories have not been enough to make us all wake from the long dream...

Jumper said...

Hey, I just bought this book; now you're giving it away?!

David Brin said...

Jumper... two stories. Big deal. The best ones you still gotta pay for... and you did, thanks!

Now for that Amazon review.... ;-)

locumranch said...



'Reality Check' is a fine rigamarole of tale which begins at the ending & ends at the beginning, circular & self-contained in all respects. Thank you for sharing it with us.


Best
______
I must apoligise to Laurent & the other Francophiles out there:
Rather than being 'cowards' per se, the French suffer from an excess of cultural self-regard. They 'like themselves' as they are; therefore, they are unwilling to contemplate the self-violence known as 'personal sacrifice' (which is why their go-to Foreign Legion military is composed of 'foreigners'). This is because militancy requires at least a soupçon of self-loathing which suicide bombers & face-based cultures possess in excess (of which the US possesses a strange & peculiar subtype of self-loathing, one more OPTIMISTIC, which balances a deep-rooted 'dislike' & potentially self-destructive dissatisfaction with 'who we are now' and a strong belief in self-improvement & 'who we are capable of becoming'). The French have no such impulse towards either militant 'self-loathing' or 'self-improvement', believing as they do that their culture is optimal in most respects. And, thus, we term them 'cowards' because they tend to value their lives & comforts too highly, when in truth they are merely fops.


Best

Jon S. said...

The (low-res) simulated world of Minecraft has added a new feature in recent times; if you reach the edge of the map, it now generates new terrain to explore. (So far as I've been able to tell, that terrain seems to be devoid of villages, but perhaps I've just been unlucky - it's not like I've dedicated a lot of time to exploring the edges, after all.) Perhaps our descendants/full-selves need to add a new feature to their simulation, and explore beyond the edge of the map, to find those earlier civilizations that "fell" to Deification, and see what new truths, if any, they may have found along the way...

Smurphs said...

Dear Locum,

WTF?

What was that? Racism? Classism? Francophobia? Cultural Superiority Complex?

I hope you were trying to be assuming and I just missed it.

If not, it was vile!

Best

M.C. Frye said...

Beautiful and chilling at once. I wonder what those who wake up go on to do with themselves.

Jumper said...

I was just kidding, David. I liked this story.

Tony Fisk said...

"Perhaps our role on this planet is not to worship God-but to create him.
And then our work will be done. It will be time to play."

- Arthur C Clarke

An interesting tale that makes good use of the recursive traps of virtual reality (which appear inevitable in *any* tale of virtual reality!). I wonder who the narrator is?

Paul SB said...

The paradox - that no one wants to die, but immortality would get old so fast people would lose interest in living. It isn't a new theme, and some of the elements are familiar (Tau Zero, the Matrix, Expendable - I'm sure there are more), but a well-crafted take and imaginative, both in terms of themes and POV. I loved the ending:

Move on with the drama -- the life -- that you’ve chosen.
After all, it’s only make believe.

How much of our 'real' lives today do we spend in make believe? Might the future just be an extension of that shift toward increasing leisure time, which could be interpreted as increasing neoteny/decreasing relevance. What happens when survival just isn't an issue anymore?

locumranch said...


A person who accepts the given reality is called a 'realist';
A person who rejects that reality is called a 'malcontent'.

A person who is well-adjusted is called 'conservative'; and
A person who desires novelty & change is 'maladjusted'.

A person who distrusts human motivation is a 'misanthrope'; and
A person who habours Anti-French bias is a 'misFROGinist'.

How unhappy does someone have to be, I wonder, to slip the surly bonds of earth, to desire progress at any cost, or to disappear into their own contemplative navel?


Best

David Brin said...

Blah blah de-self-serving-and-conveniently-self-praising-blah.

Son, you invented none of that. Including (see Mark Twain) enjoying tweaking on the French.

Indeed for the rest of you go enjoy this link!

A story about a math problem on a standardized test should not inspire laughter and admiration and anger all at once. This one did. And while the father-author is at one level a hero, and a paladin for the rights of his exceptional whiz daughter…

...he’s also an arrogant prick. Ah well. We need to have the kind of society that we do. Where this kind of tale is viewed as reinforcing our love of exceptional excellence and equilibrium disturbers.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/whats-largest-number-you-can-represent-3-digits-nope-its-ed-trice

And no... NONE of you invented Suspicion of authority or love of eccentricity and all that. You suckled it from almost every book and/or Hollywood film.

Yeah yeah. You invented proclaiming yourself to be a rebel. zzzzzzzzzzz

Jumper said...

locumranch, why do you repeatedly say stuff like this: "people are called..." when they pretty much are not called that? Do you really just not see the level you allow straw-man statements to dominate your thinking? Every sentence you write seems based on some weird perception that if theoretically some idiot somewhere might conceivably make some nonsense statement, then it's obviously endemic? Look in the mirror: it's you making one nonsense statement after another. Apparently your worst, most insufferable enemy is locumranch.

Deuxglass said...

Locum,

Your love of psychobabble is impressive.

Deuxglass said...

Locum,

You are suffering from “French-Envy Disorder” and comes from an early attempt to imitate French style and mentality but when the sufferer can’t pull it off because of his own ineptitude, in his deep anger he projects all his own negative attributes onto the French. In reality, all those negative attributes are his own and not those of the French. The cure is long, difficult and very expensive but there is still hope for you if you see a psychiatrist soon.

See, I can do psychobabble too.

Tony Fisk said...

Locum, you try far too hard to act the Contrarian, and end up being cast as the Black Knight.

The other thing you need to do is learn that effective argument consists of more than stringing a few self-coined definitions together. If you frame your viewpoint with assertions, expect people to step around it.

Laurent Weppe said...

The funniest thing about Locum's latest rank is that I know by experience that the French who "Like Themselves" the most, those who suffer from the most excessive forms of self-regard, those who see Frenchness as the "Überkultur"... are the most aggressive and jingoistic of the lot. They are the likelier to view violent self-sacrifice as worthwhile because "We're the best and those who disagree are in the way of the glorious frenchification of the world".

And of course, the most embarrassing thing about radicalized french Muslims is not that they "reject" France cultural zeitgeist per se. They reject France as a polity, sure, they hate the existing social hierarchy and all those who benefit from it or simply accept it, and they'd love to pull a reverse Montagnac: slaughter the adult white french bourgeois, rape their wives and children and enslave the offsprings thus conceived, but there's nothing "Unfrench" about their murderous desires: they are the french Id laid bare, and it's so ugly that most of our polite elites would prefer to strip them their french citizenship that acknowledge this disgraceful truth.

KevinC said...

David Brin wrote:

"A story about a math problem on a standardized test should not inspire laughter and admiration and anger all at once. This one did. And while the father-author is at one level a hero, and a paladin for the rights of his exceptional whiz daughter…"

I'm not buying this. We're supposed to believe that the father and the school officials were THAT pig-headed? Both were willing to spend thousands of dollars lawyering up, and take time off work (and school, if Daddy needed to bring Girl Genius with him to d'awwww the judge), over one answer on one test that wouldn't affect her A+ either way? No "Yeah whatevs, my little girl is right, you know it, we know it. Honey, you're always 100% in my book. Now let's go get you the biggest ice cream sundae you've ever laid eyes on!" from Daddy?

Or "Yeah, little girl is brilliant! Gold star!" from the teacher? "But Mr. McGillicuddy, you can't do that!" the Principal protests. "It says right here in Article 6,239 Section 912, Sub-Section 355-A of the Common Core Manual, Vol. 15 p. 3,221 that you can't change her answer without declaring everybody else wrong! Even if she's right within the context of her knowledge of exponents, and the other kids are right in the context of what we've taught them. It says so in the RULES!" Really? What's gonna happen if the teacher gives Girl Genius a 100%? NSA Special Ops soldiers in black kevlar Federal Alphabet Ninja togs are gonna rappel down from Stealth choppers and gun the teacher down?

This sounds like one of those "Just So" stories, like the one where the Science Professor "proves God doesn't exist" by dropping chalk, until the one day that Ernest Young Evangelical stands up to him, and the chalk bounces off his toe, skids across the floor and doesn't break, therefore Jesus rode around on dinosaurs with Adam and Eve 6,000 years ago.

KevinC said...

Also, weird subtext: "Don't worry dear, Daddy will bankrupt the family and take this to the Supreme Court if we have to, to make sure you keep getting 100%! On Every! Math Test! You Ever! Take! But no pressure, honey!"

TCB said...

Locum needs to read a few books about the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era.

Those old frogs would have eaten him and shat out the melody of La Marseillaise.

And forty years later they still looked good in their uniforms.

Proof: http://mashable.com/2014/10/27/napoleonic-wars-veterans/#opAT6Sc2qkqt

Paul SB said...

And our little loci sure gets a lot of attention, doesn't he? I wonder what concatenation of feel-good neurochemicals go zipping between his synapses whenever he visits this blog? I imagine smug arrogance probably involves some dopamine, serotonin, no doubt a little epinephrine. How many of the comments in this thread are focused on him?

Jon S. said...

Can't say, Paul - I stopped reading his nonsensical little diatribes a couple of years ago.

John's Secret Identity™ said...

The 999 story sounds like the short of thing that would make the news. After an admittedly brief search I find nothing.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re the dopey schoolkid maths question

999 is the correct answer to the question - "what is the largest number that you can represent with three digits"
The answer "9 raised to the 9th power raised to the 9th power" - contains a lot more than "three digits"

If the question was "what is the largest number that you can represent with three digits and a lot of other words" - then the girls answer would still be wrong

example - 9 raised to the 9 millionth power raised to the 9th power - still no more digits but a much higher number

When I was a kid I complained about a Biology test where I should have got 100% - the teacher said - yes I was correct, gave me the extra marks then took some more off! - for showing off

Paul SB said...

Jon S.,

"Can't say, Paul - I stopped reading his nonsensical little diatribes a couple of years ago."

Smart man!

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin - when the book tour hits LA, I'll be looking forward to hearing your read a story or two, and getting a physical copy. I'm sure you'll let us know.

donzelion said...

@Duncan - nah, I like 888, arranged as double exponents, but flipped sideways. That ought to be a little bigger than 9 to the 9th to the 9th. ;)

David Brin said...

donzelion alas, no book tour for this one. I'll try to announce my next LA event... though why not help first week sales?

;-)

donzelion said...

@KevinC - This sounds like one of those "Just So" stories
To my mind, this is worse than a mere "tall tale" - this is a fantasy intended to assist the Republicans in their anti-scientific attack on American schools. I'm surprised to see it referenced here.

(1) Republicans, esp. those chasing votes from conservative Christians, are required to oppose the "common core" - because any unified standards adopted anywhere MIGHT be extended to include evolution as science.
(2) Donald Trump and Ted Cruz (along with nearly every other Republican presidential candidate) have gone on record as opposing the "common core." They benefit from the myths contained in this story, even if the story contains no explicit endorsement of their politics.
(3) Google Scholar finds no records of any judgments involving "Ed Trice" and the "common core" in the last 10 years. Expensive private databases might locate the claim he posits, but the absence of such a record in his own 'tale' makes me suspect this is a myth.
(4) So far as I'm aware, the US Department of Education does not implement any standardized tests to assess the 'common core' itself or to review student performance. I believe they occasionally make use of tests imposed by others to assess impacts for different educational programs and guide budget stories. However, the Republicans despise the Department of Education - particularly its role enforcing the Civil Rights Act.
(5) The "common core" approach to math, and other fields, was adopted independently by 42 states. The federal government endorses 'higher standards,' but without uniform standards, no one knows what amounts to "higher" (and the easiest trick, under "No Child Left Behind" is to game the tests to ensure little things like learning never interfere with budget decisions by local governors).

So, we get a "cute story" (whiz kid gets hug from hero daddy) - used for less than cute propaganda.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

The paradox - that no one wants to die, but immortality would get old so fast people would lose interest in living.


Perhaps, the resolution lies in a lesson from recent series of movies, like Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. Every so often, on a fairly regular basis, actually, they go back to the beginning and start the series over again.

Maybe what we'd need is not simple immortality, but the true ability to be young again and again and again. To literally "know then what I know now."

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

A person who is well-adjusted is called 'conservative';


Not in this universe.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

How unhappy does someone have to be, I wonder, to slip the surly bonds of earth, to desire progress at any cost, or to disappear into their own contemplative navel?


A person who unintentionally describes himself while thinking he's describing others is "Irony Man".

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - "no book tour for this one. I'll try to announce my next LA event... though why not help first week sales?

Done. Seldom buy physical books these days; I wind up moving and giving them all away, but suppose they're much easier to sign (should the opportunity arise) than a Kindle.

Y'know, I was watching Rene Auberjonois (Odo, from Deep Space Nine) reading a short story last night at the Getty, and thinking, gee, I know some authors who have interesting sci fi stories that ought to be performed somewhere...does that even happen these days at those goofy cosplay conventions, or is it all about selling tickets to the next blockbuster? Where does one go who wants to hear ideas, rather than ogle the eye candy? (Though I will stand by the JPL/von Karman lectures...and they're own sort of eye candy.)

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

A story about a math problem on a standardized test should not inspire laughter and admiration and anger all at once. This one did. And while the father-author is at one level a hero, and a paladin for the rights of his exceptional whiz daughter…

...he’s also an arrogant prick. Ah well. We need to have the kind of society that we do. Where this kind of tale is viewed as reinforcing our love of exceptional excellence and equilibrium disturbers.


Agreed. I was glad that he won the battle not to have his daughter penalized and recognized as having a (if not "the") correct answer. Marking down every other kid in the country (probably including mine) and "not caring" how much cost or bother falls on anyone else makes him an asshole. I admire the daughter's creatively intelligent mind, but also hope she somehow avoids developing her father's attitude toward other people.

I also can't help feeling that any published account railing against "Common Core" is code for "I hate President Obama and the Democrats." I know there's nothing in the story that says that. It's just me.

Finally, that guy reminds me of John Kasich, and what it would be like were he to become president.

Oh, P.S., I wonder what he would do if "Catchpa" made his daughter repeat a "Please prove you're not a robot" challenge, even though she was correct that teddy bears could be a food, or some such thing.

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass:

Locum,

Your love of psychobabble is impressive.


I'm starting to wonder if loc is auditioning for Donald Trump's running mate.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

And of course, the most embarrassing thing about radicalized french Muslims is not that they "reject" France cultural zeitgeist per se. They reject France as a polity, sure, they hate the existing social hierarchy and all those who benefit from it or simply accept it, and they'd love to pull a reverse Montagnac: slaughter the adult white french bourgeois, rape their wives and children and enslave the offsprings thus conceived, but there's nothing "Unfrench" about their murderous desires: they are the french Id laid bare, and it's so ugly that most of our polite elites would prefer to strip them their french citizenship that acknowledge this disgraceful truth.


So you're saying they're the French equivalent of Donald Trump?

Duncan Ocel said...

I will posit about intellectual property and creativity, as a musician and self-judged-as-creative person, that the simple melodies that were first captured by those now lauded as geniuses are not necessarily inherently simple but that by being early-arisen we think of them as simple because we know them. Chains of inspiration go back all throughout the generations, and a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem exists in this area. It is possible that the low-hanging fruits were plucked early, or that we think of them as low-hanging just because we have heard them before and we did not originate them ourselves. Human evaluations of complexity of musical pattern or any created work can be subjective, and may or may not always be so.

Paul SB said...

Larry, I'm not sure the reboot would work. Yes, being able to rejuvenate the body, even to the point of rejuvenating all those synaptic receptors that most people are clueless about, would help. But even starting over with a new body, you're still confronted by the same themes and variations. Remember the character in the Hitchhiker's Guide who was immortal and mad wit his life's work to personally insult every sapient being in the Universe? While I disagree with a lot of Adams' ideas (he was pretty anti-science in a lot of ways), I think he was right on immortality. It will be fun for a few hundred years, by which time you will have seen and done pretty much everything.

You've brought up the trumper in two successive posts (and in the second, I think what Laurent is saying is far more subtle than any trumpery the Donald is capable of comprehending). Don't let turkeys take up too much brain space! It's no good for your health.

From Dictionary.com:
trumpery
[truhm-puh-ree]
noun, plural trumperies.
1.
something without use or value; rubbish; trash; worthless stuff.
2.
nonsense; twaddle:
His usual conversation is pure trumpery.
3.
Archaic. worthless finery.
adjective
4.
of little or no value; trifling, worthless; rubbishy; trashy.

Mike Breeden said...

Excuse me Mr. Brin, I just read your Reality Check and while I find it quite insightful and thought provoking speculation, with great respect, may I correct you as to the nature of this reality. You are quite correct to recognize the uniqueness of the Transition Era as you refer to it, but its special uniqueness does not signify such an ominous cause as you suggest. The explanation is simpler and an aspect of your extrapolation presents a known hazard to the usefulness of this reality for the purpose it was created. It is critical enough that after due consideration it was decided it warranted a breach of protocol to allow communication to you in this reality. May I offer the correct explanation as a request that you do not follow that thread of speculation, as it can lead to a rather damaging meme we would rather was not spread further. You are correct that this reality was created by humans from further along the apparent timeline of human development, but for a completely different purpose than you suggest. While there are realities created for recreation and entertainment of citizens, with different immersive natures, we tend to find other settings than period this more enjoyable. It is sort of considered slumming... We have developed greatly. Don't doubt we have learned a great deal about having fun. You are correct though in one regard of your speculation, this reality does serve a critical purpose due to its uniqueness. We solved so many problems, but we decided long ago to stay human and not pursue continuous development for no good reason. Biology is the ultimate conservatism and we understand that change for the sake of change presents great danger. We were warned and learned to hear our moral instincts. So following the principles of biology that formed us, we changed enough to adapt to a new world we could thrive and develop in long term. Yes, we solved the technical problems, but naturally many problems remained and we mostly solved those with genetics, philosophy and strategy, but we had been warned to remain human and so embraced that. We know how to avoid a caste or feudal society, but that was figured out just after your current time position due to the... no, not yet, though it was speculated that "you" might be one to figure that problem out in "your" reality. You have solved all but one part of the problem. Since our "ecology" is created as opposed to natural, our society had to be formed in such a way that it would would be self repairing during natural or human made disasters. Machines were one of the greatest challenges, not because of the economics or even their removal of status and identity that traditionally came from occupation. That did rip apart the social fabric that was based on status and we had to find a new form of status, as that is far older than humans, but we did. The real challenge was to develop a useful philosophical understanding of the difference between humans and machines. No, the real problem we faced that this reality is carefully crafted to solve was the moral one. The problem of how to teach strength and morality to our children in a wealthy culture where every need is fulfilled with no sweat or effort needed. It was our greatest challenge and "this" time period more than any other offers a training ground filled with a variety of moral possibilities from the most rigid Calvinism to the most casually and seductively corruptive. A person can choose to be anything they want. As you said, it also offers great potential to be creative. Others like you, are actually here by choice for a "refresher". …........
I hope this is amusing enough to excuse putting it as two posts to bypass the 4000 character limit. If it rejects a second post to complete this, I will try something else

Mike Breeden said...

While we have created a world humans are adapted to, the learning curve is extremely steep, so this reality is a place to learn creativity, strength, morality and failure that is far harder to learn in "reality". That is the purpose. Those learning here are not left to their own devices. Notice the many bodies of mythology saying that the purpose of this place is moral development. There were fewer of those myths in the natural timeline and less chaos as well. This is meant to be a difficult school that teaches its lessons well and deep as is required of the citizens that make the current world. Wait until you get back and can consider some of the potentials we have explored. We do not expect to be well enough adapted to this "ecology" to make informed decisions about the human future for at least another 50,000 years.

I will mention that though you are mostly mistaken about humans becoming Gods, some have made the mistake you describe, but really most of humanity saw no reason to and we haven't heard much from them anyway. We do not think it is a survival path. We do carefully watch for them to make sure they are not manipulating our reality, but our philosophical analysis suggests that humans are made to be humans, not Gods so it is not a wise path to follow.

For your information, since I do have some responsibility for this reality, we have met once. You were in San Diego commenting on the worldwide response to ozone destroying chemicals. That was quite an well done moral statement. Really, it is what we expect of those that learn well here. Possibly you recall a very large young man in the audience. I wanted to see you first hand. Coincidentally, my current incarnation in that reality grew up crawling the sandstone boulders of your current local. Everyone enjoys being a child.

If you want, there is a more robust description of the future and how it was reached available in "this" reality. Since we do not want to hold anyone's development back, it is put always put there somewhere under the premise of "seek and yee shall find". It is hidden in plain sight, the best hiding place. If you want to find it just search under "Transition To A New Human Ecology". Yes, it's obvious, but no one finds it.

Jumper said...

In any case the kid was wrong. There is no largest number written with three nines. Add factorials to each nine, for one example: 9! to the 9! to the 9!
Seriously this sounds apocryphal, an urban legend.

donzelion said...

@Larry - "I also can't help feeling that any published account railing against "Common Core" is code for "I hate President Obama and the Democrats." I know there's nothing in the story that says that. It's just me."

It's not just you. The Cruz/Trump/Science Denialists plant fake stories like this to test their access to folks outside their immediate fold. They despise the "common core" for a number of reasons, including a fear that unified standards are a stepping stone to imposing evolution on schoolchildren.

David Brin said...

Hello "Mike Breedon" as you style yourself down in this purgatorial training zone timeline-simulation. Thanks for the way-cool and fun "speculative narrative"... or else the Truth.

I give odds on the former, but the nature of this reality is that you never know! In fact, the occasional grammatical flaw... and leaving out helpful paragraph breaks (!) helped bias the perception toward interpreting it as a bright fellow's fun sharing of some spec-fic. But then... maybe that was deliberate! ;-)

In any event, you are welcome to slum down here any time... the best comments section community on the web. Do thrive.

Paul451 said...

Or as the internet would say, "Cool story, bro".

I get the point, that the biggest flaw with Common Core is the combination of ambiguity and mindless application of one answer; they've taken the human out of the loop. It doesn't reduce bad teaching, it prevent good teaching.

But it should be possible to just say that without inventing fables.

David Brin said...

Ironically, Common Core was the work of a bunch of mostly republican Governors who wanted to replace No Child Left Behind... which was a Republican program. Like the angel in Barbarella... then "have no memory."

Paul451 said...

Me,
"it prevent good teaching"

Me not like English. English make me tense.

LarryHart,
"Maybe what we'd need is not simple immortality, but the true ability to be young again and again and again. To literally "know then what I know now." "

Rejuvenation would be nice. Even without true immortality. (Indeed, if there was a treatment that sacrificed five years at the end of your life for 20 years of renewed youth, it would be so popular they'd have to ban it. Hell, I expect if there were two mutually-exclusive injections you could choose, one that adds 20 years of youth at the expense of 5 years of lifespan and one that added 20 years to the very end of your life, more people would choose the former.)

But to keep immortality interesting, I think you'd need a method of having a do-over without "knowing then what I know now", precisely to give you the experience of surprise and discovery again.

Temporarily blanking memories so you can experience things "for the first time" again. Even all the way up to Mike's version, where people live entire new lives without past memory in order to explore new paths or learn new truths.

Paul451 said...

Me,
"Or as the internet would say, "Cool story, bro". "

I actually meant that to refer to the 999-story; but the timing of posts meant it looked like a response to David riffing on the ambiguity of Mike's reality. Somehow my comment still worked.

Both stories, Mike's and the 999-guy, had a similar ambiguity. You're almost entirely certain they are entirely fictional, but you can never be certain. Which is precisely what that classic 4chan-meme is meant to indicate. "Cool story, bro." I don't believe you, but it was entertaining enough that I don't care enough to argue over it.

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - "Common Core was the work of a bunch of mostly republican Governors who wanted to replace No Child Left Behind... which was a Republican program."

Well, 7 or 8 states rejected core, all of which are Republican strongholds. Most "mainstream" states adopted it, once they realized how easy "No Child Left Behind" was to game. I would say there's a pretty serious division within the Republican party: the anti-science faction (Cruz, views 'common core' as perverse), the populist faction (Trump, jockeying for the Cruz Christian voters, hostile this week, but apt to flipflop as always), and the accountability faction. Obama's Dept of Education has given waivers to "No Child Left Behind" for states that adopted "common core" - using that as a waiver to delay cuts, takeovers, and expensive budget choices.

But as with any movement in education, a faction is hostile and wants to fight it, and make money or take power by proposing their alternative.

Paul SB said...

Duncan Ocel,

Interesting thoughts. Since I'm not a musician, and can only barely read music, I'm willing to work with your insights. In my mind it combined with the discussion of immortality, and made me wonder to what extent cycling between musical genres represents a sort of rejuvenation - as in, I've memorized all my albums and getting tired of same-old same-old. Could the deliberate, almost moronic simplicity of rap be a reaction to centuries of Western music over-developing the same tonality? I can imagine a parallel with cubism in visual art, but art form are always more complicated, aren't they? They get tied in with personal and social identity - generation, ethnicity, regionalism and so forth.

Have you tried listening to musical traditions that use very different tonality? They can be very hard to get used to. The pentatonic scales of Gagaku are relatively easy because we hear a bit of it and have come to recognize the odd pitch intervals as Japanese or East Asian generally, but something like Gamelan is much more difficult for people acculturated to Western tonality to get, much less enjoy. Perhaps exploring such different traditions can fertilize the musical imagination. And that would certainly not count as low-hanging fruit.

Paul SB said...

Piggy-backing on Don Ze Lion's comment, most people are unaware of just how much influence textbook producers are in forming education policy, to say nothing of how their materials can circumscribe classroom practices. These are big businesses profiting from the system, and they often behave in ways reminiscent of government contractors elsewhere (how 'bout those Challenger O-rings! Big business does everything so efficiently!)

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

But to keep immortality interesting, I think you'd need a method of having a do-over without "knowing then what I know now", precisely to give you the experience of surprise and discovery again.


Maybe then, what is needed is something like that episode of Star Trek TNG when the Enterprise was stuck in a time loop, reliving the same quarter of an episode over and over again, except enough "learning" was retained that it wasn't a complete re-run, and they were finally able to remember enough to escape the next loop.

I enjoy fleshing this out because I agree with many here that eternal life with full vigor would become boring and eternal life without it would be hell. As the lifespan lengthens, we need to explore third options.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

(Trump, jockeying for the Cruz Christian voters, hostile this week, but apt to flipflop as always)


Of all of Trump's cynical and disingenuous pandering comments, the most blatantly cynical, disingenuous, pandering one I can think of was when he asserted that the IRS might be targeting him because he's a Christian. I doubt he actually believes that the IRS targets Christians in general, and I suspect that the if the IRS finds him worth scrutinizing, it's because of his many shady deals. But with one comment, he turns the non-story (The IRS pays attention to a billionaire with many real-estate deals) and manages to imply that:

1) He, like his intended audience, believes Christians to be a persecuted minority in America, and

2) That he, himself, is a Christian, like them

I have a hard time believing that even his own supporters believe this constitutes "truth telling" or "telling it like it is", but then again, I've seen this movie before in 1980, and have heard about the 1932 version, so I'm afraid to just laugh the guy off.

Any fans of the "Thursday Next" series of novels here? The second and third books in the series featured a politician character who had come to the real world from fiction, and who ran a campaign that eerily anticipates Trump.

(Sorry PaulSB)

Mike Breeden said...

Theodore Sturgeon had a style that removed context of time and location. I liked it. Maybe it is because I never know where or when I am.

I have read the majority of speculative fiction from Olaf Stapleton to Larry Hamilton. You and McMaster Bujold are my favorites. All speculation I have seen though has missed the most important individual points.... well, mostly the bigger one too, that are what the future is built upon. I'd love for you to know them, because with your superlative skill as a writer, you would turn them into poetry to teach the lessons humanity will need to survive. Alas, I might know them, but am far too clumsy to communicate them. What, you doubt me! You doubt I can show you new worlds of perception. I'll prove it then. I can easily reveal a whole new vista that even you have never known, but is in front of you every day. It is one of the most powerful forces, controlling all of human destiny and all you need to see it is a word. I am not allowed to tell you that word. Knowledge unearned is knowledge unlearned. That is the lesson of this reality, but I can lead you. You must find the word and then you will start to know it. You have seen it, it cannot be missed, but you do not know it, so it is hidden. The word is its name and names are magic. You can know it if you know its name and there is a possibility of controlling the power then. Follow this path. Do humans have a survival instinct? You know, "an animal will chew off its foot to escape a trap" or perhaps sever its arm to free itself from a rock. Can you imagine anything more powerful? Obviously humans have a survival instinct. They can be very hard to kill. There must be a name for that survival instinct. Everything gets named or maybe not. Discussion of human survival instinct has always been heretical, because that would mean we are animals rather than divine. Still, we have such an instinct. How could you not know its name? Maybe they hid the name. It is so important and powerful. It can grow slowly or flower suddenly. It is like other emotions such as love or hate or anger, but even more important. You can see it in people if you know its name and your knowledge will change as your eyes open and suddenly so many whys become knowns. It then opens another completely different door of understanding, because it is the why to a great what. Find the word. It does not mean what you think it means or what it is claimed to mean. To know its name is to gain great understanding and is the first step to even greater.

Didn't Oscar Wilde say something like if you speak truth, you must say it in jest or they will kill you.

The fun part is that if I were to speak truth, it would be safe because I know I will not be believed. It is all random nonsense anyway, but that means there might be some truth somewhere. The trick is to figure out of what I say, is there perhaps some small truth. Would you like it to be true? Do you think it will be true? Be sure that the last two comments of my previous post were quite true. I'll make no admission beyond that.

When I was 6, wandering, I did climb the Point, to the top of the Top Rock. It's easy when your brain still isn't connected. I have written of the beauty of that time.

David Brin said...

MB... more fun! Kewl stuff... But brevity is a virtue. We who are enmeshed in THIS reality feel intense time pressure which prompted "me" to write KILN PEOPLE, a cry for more time to get stuff done!

The "key word" notion is not only in "Reality Check" but in a scene in Existence.

Alas, that is all the time the "I" have for this thread right now. I am tugged back into "reality." (And my fingers are tired from making quotation marks in the air.)

Brevity. Paragraph breaks.

donzelion said...

@LarryHart - I'd missed that one! LOL. Had to fact check you there - it's too hilarious to believe, and yet, there is in in WaPo, Feb 26. I suppose Trump will soon run the most Christian strip club in America at the Trump Taj Mahal in Jersey.

http://casinoconnectionac.com/issue/vol-13-no-3-march-2016/article/trump-hopes-ac-strip-club-will-take-off

Now, having once been a pretty ardent Christian, I can strongly support the idea of forgiveness of sins, etc., and stoning adulterers is bad, and men who look at strippers aren't even adulterers - so perhaps a strip club fits neatly with modern Christian doctrines and I'm just out of touch. After all, Christianity says a lot about accumulating wealth, but since that doesn't apply to Trump, maybe all the other sections are also in need of modernization?

Yet I'm having trouble imagining the Biblical rules on strip club operations. Does anyone know if Jesus frowns at nipples, but smiles at pasties? Why don't churches do more bikini contests anyway - shucks, they could do pageants and fill up those pews. Run casinos in the basement...operate a 'bankruptcy-baptismal' for the sinners who lose? Build giant walls to keep out the rapists, and...

raito said...

Re: largest number. 999 is a number . 9 to the 9 to the 9 is an expression, not a number.

Around here, most school stuff is about dismantling public education wholesale. As a start on ensuring rich children get education, and the 'lesser' do not. Sure, everyone will have a 'choice', as will the schools in choosing whom the admit. Even now, there's lawsuits gearing up on both sides because the publicly funded private schools refuse to admit anyone who might bring down their numbers.

I sill read loco, mostly to practice dismantling correct-sounding, but ultimately wrong statements. Today, the problem is in the difference between 'acknowledge' and 'accept:'.

raito said...

Oops, almost forgot...


Donzelion,

Check out on archive.org a radio program called Mindwebs. It was produced here. Readings of sci-fi stories. Recently WHA was soliciting new program ideas, and I asked them to bring it back. Probably won't happen.

Paul SB said...

Raito,

"I sill read loco, mostly to practice dismantling correct-sounding, but ultimately wrong statements. Today, the problem is in the difference between 'acknowledge' and 'accept:'."

Good observation, but that is only the first line. Every single line is based on false premises and unsupported assumptions.

Larry,

(Sorry PaulSB)

No worries - it's your cortisol, and it's an election year, so I'm not surprised. As to the novel series you mentioned, anticipating the trumper shouldn't be that hard. He's following a very old playbook, one that more educated people recognize. To the 1980 and 1932 versions you could add dozens more, depending on your depth of historical knowledge. How about that Delian League?

Will Feret said...

Hello Dr. Brin I've been reading alot of your articles on immortality and found myself agreeing with a lot of it, particularly the idea that it's ok to hope out for it but it's not acceptable to put everything else on the backburner at the expense of future generations at what may be a gamble for immortality.

Personally if immortality was real I would have no desire to "transcend" humanity (this seems like a bit of a self-indulgent fantasy for SOME of its adherents). I like being human, so if I could be a fit human for a really long time that would be great but I don't think I'll get it. Anyways I was wondering if the biggest potential downside to immortality being achieved for everyone who wanted it was cultural stagnation?

Firstly there would probably be restrictions on how many kids people (or maybe just the immortal ones) could have to prevent overpopulation and then you have the older generations living longer with fewer younger generations with new ideas displacing the older concepts. So how would society progress at more than a snail's pace? Imagine if immortality was created in the 1950's and most people accepted it. We could still be dealing with Jim Crow racism, and the idea of gay marriage becoming legalized would probably be a pipe dream if the majority of the voting popualation was primarily influenced by pre-Counter Culture ideas and there are fewer young people voting than today.

Would there be anyway to overcome this problem if the type of immortality achieved is "human who lives forever", or is it inherent to everyone having access to (that type of) immortality?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Will

Re social change - it's not "just the young people" - a lot of people do change
It may be slower without as many young people - but maybe not

As far as having kids is concerned - I expect the birth rate would slow - and the death rate would not stop
People would continue to die in accidents - and with a really long life span I suspect a larger percentage would just decide - enough is enough

Any changes would take decades - and give us plenty of time to work out solutions

David Brin said...

Depends on many things. Like can we upgrade, even a little, as time passes?

Laurent Weppe said...

* "So you're saying they're the French equivalent of Donald Trump?"

Kinda: french Daeshists are people who want to invert the existing social hierarchy through copious usage of violence. Trump voters (as well as Le Pen voters in France) want to reestablish their fantasized "ideal" social hierarchy through copious usage of state-sanctioned violence.

***

* "Imagine if immortality was created in the 1950's and most people accepted it. We could still be dealing with Jim Crow racism, and the idea of gay marriage becoming legalized would probably be a pipe dream"

I see two possibilities (well, two possibilities and a half):
1. Immortality is expensive and therefore a privilege accessible only to a few: in that case, we'd soon see a violent uprising by mortals pissed at the prospect of being forevermore lorded over by undying oligarchs ending with the slaughter of the minority of immortals.
2. Immortality is inexpensive and everybody becomes immortal, but faced with an eternity at the bottom of the food chain without even the hope that their kids will have a better life, the downtrodden start their own bloody uprising: even if their uprising fails and they end up being the ones slaughtered, someone still needs to do the menial works, so part of the middle class is downgraded to the bottom of the food-chain, realize they were bamboozled, the downtrodden's uprising starts anew, etc, etc, etc, until humanity wises up of causes its own extinction
2.5. Immortality is given to a majority of the population but the proletariat remains mortal: the result is the same: we get a violent uprising with the same motive than One, and when the majority of immortals win, they'll still need someone to clean up their trash, meaning the next uprising will be around the corner.

Suffice to say, I'm pretty sure a society of immortals would have to become open-minded, fair and progressive very fast if it wanted to endure.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Suffice to say, I'm pretty sure a society of immortals would have to become open-minded, fair and progressive very fast if it wanted to endure.

I think you are right on there!
Imagine the repressed with enough time to work out what to do and young bodies to do it with

Paul SB said...

There was a study a few years ago that goes into the extent to which people fail to envision their own ability to change. Even old people change, in spite of the stereotypes. I would imagine that even very long-lived or immortal people would change, though having a much smaller cadre of youth probably would slow change quite a bit, as Will suggests.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/01/your-elusive-future-self

This kind of shoots down a major assumption behind conservatism, when you think about it.

Mike Breeden said...

I can tell you about immortality, even a form to be desired where you are you and not a God, which is not you. It is a powerful old desire. They built the pyramids to achieve immortality. It takes only three things, one of which is a feature of human nature and two that are being worked on now. That should not be the hard part. The hard part should be to avoid the inevitable archetype of the vampire where the old robs the young of life to sustain itself. You can already see competition for healthcare between young and old as well as other resources. That is easy enough to avoid though. Later comes another challenge. What happens then? What happens, as Mr. Brin says, when we have too much time? Yes, an immortality of eternal youth is wonder and a human has great capacity for that as well as the creature and kinetic pleasures. Still, when all the stories have been told and all the songs have been sung, all the paths wandered, all the mountains climbed, what to do then? Why, become something else of course. If a human was created by nature and all of nature is designed for the renewal of death, then create a new type of life never created by nature that is given a new purpose and become that. It is a well known story, just not well understood. Mr. Brin's "upgrade ... as time passes".

It is funny, almost poetic, that the first requirement of immortality, the feature that is given to us in our nature, is also the requirement for both immediate immortality and the longer term form as well. At the same time there is a fascinating irony that our minds are not made to naturally understand that feature. Do you know mechanical thinking machines? Computers... They can work in a multi-threaded way. A good programmer will tell you though that the human mind has great difficulty understanding that way of simultaneous thinking, especially when it happens in the multiple locations of the machines on a network. Yet if you think of the human mind, that is how it is made and works as well. While we feel consciousness in only one location and cognitive studies show we can only pay attention to one thing at a time, clearly our mind has background processes running, "problems solved at night". You can even "program them in" with hypnotic techniques - perhaps just a watcher to warn you when you step off a curb or start a question your mind will take years to process in the background. And you have no one CPU. The brain has many many specialized problem solving parts such as a speech or vision center, which can even be re-tasked to solve non-verbal or non-visual problems of pattern recognition. We are completely blind to that, yet the first requirement of immortality is known as the multi-mind model of psychology. It is the potential for a plurality of consciousness and a basic required for immortality in both its forms, yet your mind is not designed to understand its own nature is that way.

I could tell you the rest, but to understand it would require you understand and know the word that is the name (burns my tongue) of "human survival instinct". (I mentioned it above.) It is needed, before you could free yourself from beliefs that would confuse you about immortality and Gods.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

We are just at the end-point of what is both the first and last period of significantly expanding morbidity in human history. We have, in recent decades, been greatly expanding human life expectancy by expanding the time of human morbidity. This gives most of the people currently alive a severely distorted image of what further expansion of human life expectancy would be like. This severely distorted image has become known as the Tithonus error.

We are at the point where any further expansion of human morbidity and frailty would be very difficult and far more expensive than a significant expansion of the human healthspan. The current estimate is that each modest 2.2 year expansion of the individual human healthspan would add $7.1 trillion to the economy of the United States alone over a 50 year period. See:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007162357.htm

Virtually everyone who is now working toward expanding human life expectancy is working toward expanding human healthspan and severely compressing the period of human morbidity and frailty at the end of life.

The anti-myostatin gene therapy now in human clinical trials for some forms of muscular dystrophy can very likely also become widely used to greatly reduce human frailty (sarcopenia).

These therapies will also very soon require human professional and amateur sports to move to a two-tier organization. There will be one level of sports that only allow primitive "natural" humans who aren't allowed to even use most kinds of cold medicines (which is the one level of sport that we now have). There will be secondary leagues where any form of genetic or medicinal enhancement may be used, but the particular enhancement that the athlete uses just has to be openly declared.



LarryHart said...

PaulSB:

As to the novel series you mentioned, anticipating the trumper shouldn't be that hard. He's following a very old playbook, one that more educated people recognize.


Well, the "Thursday Next" series is British, and I don't think they have as short memories as we do concerning 1930s fascism across the pond.

Robert said...

Okay. Time to put on the Alt-Future Goggles and write a Bad Near Future story synopsis.

Let us say Trump becomes President. As part of his theoretical fascist policies, he advocates disarming the rapists, criminals, and immigrants in the United States. Republicans pass gun control legislation disarming undesirables... including liberals. He is backed by the Brownshirts - I mean the angry white conservative populace that brought him into power. Hopefully during this time, the American Jews start a mass exodus to Israel, seeing that this is basically the turning of the United States into Nazi America.

Sadly, every time a liberal or immigrant violently resists the disarming attempts, this just fuels Trump's demands to strip these "criminals" of their rights "for the safety of all." And his base eats it up, Republicans shove through legislation, any Democrats that dare protest are undoubtedly arrested under some version of the Patriot Act as Terrorists (you don't need a reason to be sent to Guantanamo), and the rest of the world gets nervous. Really nervous.

The last people to be disarmed and to lose their 2nd Amendment Rights are the Brownshirts - the violent angry whites who got Trump into power to begin with, as history continues to repeat itself.

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

That said, there is one other group quite aware of history, and I doubt Trump would be able to control it effectively. A Trump Presidency that tried to go down that path could end up with the first coup in our history as the military steps in, says "oh no you don't," and hopefully restores democracy. But that would also set a bad precedent.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Let us say Trump becomes President. As part of his theoretical fascist policies, he advocates disarming the rapists, criminals, and immigrants in the United States. Republicans pass gun control legislation disarming undesirables... including liberals. He is backed by the Brownshirts - I mean the angry white conservative populace that brought him into power.


The one part of your scenario I find implausible is "Republicans pass gun control legislation...". Even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when all other civil rights were up for grabs, John Ashcroft refused to consider impeding anyone's right to guns. If it didn't happen then, I can't see it happening now or ever.


Hopefully during this time, the American Jews start a mass exodus to Israel, seeing that this is basically the turning of the United States into Nazi America.


Since Netenyahu is so down against Obama and Democrats, I wonder what he's thinking about the possibility of a Trump presidency. If it's Clinton or Bernie vs Trump, who will AIPAC be backing?

Robert said...

Obviously they'd back Clinton or Sanders over Trump. Clinton is definitely pro-Israel, and Sanders is Jewish, even if not as Jewish as the AIPAC would want.

Rob H.

Robert said...

As for Republicans backing gun control legislation... if it was targeted against immigrants and other "enemies of the State" then I think Republicans would gleefully try to disarm Democrats. They aren't completely stupid. They know that Democrats have been quietly arming themselves because they expect the Republican base to go ballistic at some point. A violent uprising against the Democrats would fail if the Liberals end up armed and able to fight back, after all.

They also would be riding the tiger for all it's worth. They hate Trump. But if Trump got into power with a popular election, and they retained the House and Senate, they would realize they need to work with the Devil in Power rather than resist and in two years have Trump turn his voters on them to get them out of power.

Rob H.

donzelion said...

@Rob H - I don't think Dump dystopia would happen, or gun control, or much of any nightmare scenario. What we'd have is stagnation and perpetuation 9f the status quo - infrastructure entropy - and missed opportunity.

The thing is, one function of good government (as I see it) is to prepare for the next crises and mitigate or avoid them; another is to clean up messes; a third is to clear the way for us to provide for our own welfare. When government degenerates into theatrics and show, those functions are retarded. Even if the players do lititle direct harm, they've done none of the good they were supposed to do. That sets the stage for takeover - whether it's public schools taken by for profit companies that selectively bestow educational benefits, or public roads taken over by toll operators, or public water taken over by developers. In time, constricting the public sphere enriches a small group of well placed cronies of the powerful, while impoverishing everyone else. I distrust Dump because he made his billions playing such games through rents - and presents his approach as something brilliant. Since everything else he says flips back and forth, one must look at patterns of conduct over decades - and in that, I do not see patterns I'd like reflected more broadly.

Then again, today's Republicans do see pageantry and strip clubs more favorably than I, and think that vision will 'make America great.' I am glad not to be alone in rejecting that vision.

donzelion said...

As for gun control itself, Larry is right: Republicans continuously try to block nearly all efforts to bar terrorists from obtaining guns, both in America (except for convicted felons) and abroad (e.g., the international arms trade treaty). Change of tact there is unlikely: they wouldn't disarm Democrats, so much as take control of the military and police wherever possible and use them to protect their property and contract rights.

donzelion said...

As for gun control itself, Larry is right: Republicans continuously try to block nearly all efforts to bar terrorists from obtaining guns, both in America (except for convicted felons) and abroad (e.g., the international arms trade treaty). Change of tact there is unlikely: they wouldn't disarm Democrats, so much as take control of the military and police wherever possible and use them to protect their property and contract rights.

donzelion said...

@Rob H - I don't think Dump dystopia would happen, or gun control, or much of any nightmare scenario. What we'd have is stagnation and perpetuation 9f the status quo - infrastructure entropy - and missed opportunity.

The thing is, one function of good government (as I see it) is to prepare for the next crises and mitigate or avoid them; another is to clean up messes; a third is to clear the way for us to provide for our own welfare. When government degenerates into theatrics and show, those functions are retarded. Even if the players do lititle direct harm, they've done none of the good they were supposed to do. That sets the stage for takeover - whether it's public schools taken by for profit companies that selectively bestow educational benefits, or public roads taken over by toll operators, or public water taken over by developers. In time, constricting the public sphere enriches a small group of well placed cronies of the powerful, while impoverishing everyone else. I distrust Dump because he made his billions playing such games through rents - and presents his approach as something brilliant. Since everything else he says flips back and forth, one must look at patterns of conduct over decades - and in that, I do not see patterns I'd like reflected more broadly.

Then again, today's Republicans do see pageantry and strip clubs more favorably than I, and think that vision will 'make America great.' I am glad not to be alone in rejecting that vision.

Robert said...

I am very very glad Mass. is so firmly in the pockets of the Democrats because if it looked like Trump vs. Clinton and it was a close race, I might actually be forced to vote against Trump and try to get Clinton elected. That is a choice I never want to make.

Yes, Dr. Brin, I understand you are pro-Clinton and cannot comprehend why someone continues to detest her even after you proved your point in an argument. Just because you have shown the Clinton Presidency to be far less corrupt than claimed by Republicans does not lessen dislike toward Clinton, her chameleon pandering toward bases to get elected, and my feelings that the spots remain on that leopard.

Consider it this way. There are people who remain anti-GMO despite the research showing GMOs are safe. There are people who remain anti-vaccine despite research showing vaccines are far safer than going without. And there are people who are anti-Clinton despite the lack of evidence showing her to be without scruples. I'm that latter group and my knee-jerk reflex against Clinton is far less dangerous (given where I live) than the anti-vaccer crowd.

---------

There is one other tiger-ride that is going to bite Republicans hard. And that's the oil industry - or more specifically, shale oil. Related to that is shale gas, and it has already chomped hard on the coal industry, to the point major coal companies are starting to go belly-up.

Right now, oil prices are low enough that oil shale extraction companies are starting to go belly-up even after all their cost-cutting measures. More importantly, profits have plummeted tremendously in states that started doing quite nicely as a result of the oil shale boom - Oklahoma, North Dakota, Texas, and Kansas have all seen oil profits dry up, and of those states only Texas has a decent health due to its efforts to draw in outside non-oil industries.

This has resulted in widescale cutting of social programs to make ends meet... under Republican control of those State legislatures and governors. In the next couple of years, you are going to see those states suffering some significant problems... and it will be very difficult for Republicans to not take the blame for this. Republican state economic policies will be shown to be paper tigers that fall apart when oil prices plummet.

Further, states that have cut their infrastructure spending to save costs have, despite lower taxes, seen companies leave. That infrastructure is vital for a company to function... and while corporate libertarians and anarchists may love to claim "businesses can build their own infrastructure - private infrastructure is superior to government infrastructure!" the fact businesses are declining to pick up infrastructure spending in lieu of the government doing so has shown this to be a lie.

(Mind you, anarchists and corporate libertarians will refuse to accept this and will say "that's because there's still government there! We need NO government in order for businesses to start doing their own infrastructure!" but they would pour powdered koolaid into their mouth if there was no water available and claim it delicious.)

We are seeing some significant signs that the Republican Party is falling apart. They keep power through widescale gerrymandering. Their economic policies are being shown over and over again to be smoke and mirrors. Their base has grown angry and is turning against them. The question isn't "can Republicans maintain their hold" but "how many years left does the Republican Party have?"

Trump may have reduced that lifespan from several decades to a decade at most.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Obviously they'd [AIPAC] back Clinton or Sanders over Trump. Clinton is definitely pro-Israel, and Sanders is Jewish, even if not as Jewish as the AIPAC would want.


Yes, Sanders is Jewish, but already the pro-Israel right-wing columnists I've seen (Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, among others) have done columns on why Jews shouldn't necessarily back Sanders for that reason. They're already pushing the "only right-wing Jews are acceptable" meme. I'm not clear how the Likud faction views the Clintons, but they seem to detest the Democrats in general and to presume that the Republican Party is their ally. Will they see Trump as more Nazi or more Republican? I don't know.


As for Republicans backing gun control legislation... if it was targeted against immigrants and other "enemies of the State" then I think Republicans would gleefully try to disarm Democrats.


I'd be more inclined to agree if I hadn't lived through 9/11. If they weren't willing to restrict the Second Amendment when it came to Muslim terrorists, I don't see them (Republicans specifically) being open to disarming Americans, especially the white ones.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

We are seeing some significant signs that the Republican Party is falling apart. They keep power through widescale gerrymandering. Their economic policies are being shown over and over again to be smoke and mirrors. Their base has grown angry and is turning against them. The question isn't "can Republicans maintain their hold" but "how many years left does the Republican Party have?


One thing that scares me is that their gerrymandering pretty much gives them the House through 2020 and the new census. If they game the Electoral Vote process to throw the election to the House, they could get the presidency in 2016 and 2020. And if they replace Scalia and/or more USSC positions with more Scalias, the Supreme Court will rule that "Whole number of persons" means something that gives them continued majorities of districts for years to come.

They will not go gently into that good night. Dr Brin is correct that this is a phase of a war. Consider that when you equate your personal dislike of Hillary Clinton with the very real damage the Republican Party will continue to do to the very idea of democracy. "That government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not vanish from the earth."

Robert said...

It depends on how much in bed Republicans become with Trump.

And also if someone doesn't decide to end the threat Trump represents to the Republican Party. Trump as a martyr would benefit the Republican Party far more than Trump the Candidate.

If Trump wins the Republican Primary, Republicans have already started plans to "run against him" - basically to distance the Republican Party from Trump. But this risks splitting the vote, because someone willing to vote for Trump might decide "these assholes are against our boy, we can't trust them" and refuse to vote for those Republicans.

This is why I believe Trump vs. Sanders would result in a loss of the House by Republicans. An energized base voting for Sanders would give enough votes for Democrats to overcome Republican firewalls, especially if Republicans are running against Trump in the House and Senate elections.

Clinton might regain the House in this situation, but I very much doubt it because while Trump supporters might dislike Republican politicians who dare go against Trump, they hate Clinton far far more and will hold their noses to vote for Republican House and Senate candidates in that case.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

re: Trump and AIPAC

Speak of the devil:

http://www.electoral-vote.com/


Donald Trump is going to address AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) today. One might think he would be well received there, given that he is from the city with the largest Jewish population in the country and he has worked with many of the Jewish movers and shakers in the city's real-estate industry. Also, his Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago, was openly marketed to Jews who were excluded from many of the town's other private clubs. In addition, his daughter, Ivanka, married an Orthodox Jew in the real-estate business and converted to Judaism in 2009. Finally, he is a big public supporter of Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Such is not the case. To start with, most Jews are Democrats, so any Republican would have trouble there, but one whose campaign is practically based on racial and religious intolerance is going to have an especially tough time. Failing to instantly denounce the support of David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, didn't help much either. Trump has also declined to state that Jerusalem should be Israel's undivided capital. A group of rabbis is planning to walk out during his speech in protest. All in all, it will probably be a newsworthy, although not entirely positive, event for Trump.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Hopefully during this time, the American Jews start a mass exodus to Israel, seeing that this is basically the turning of the United States into Nazi America."

And then, upon arrival they'll discover horrified that the local Trumpists have been in charge for decades.

***

* "If it's Clinton or Bernie vs Trump, who will AIPAC be backing?"

The rich white dude most likely to be turned on by the slaughter of Arabs, of course -_-
AIPAC is not anymore (assuming it ever was) a "jewish" organization, despite having "Israel" in its name: it's a branch of the white bourgeoisie which favors those who advocate putting the uppity plebs back in their place.

***

* "There are people who remain anti-GMO despite the research showing GMOs are safe"

You don't need to believe the fable that GMO will give you testicular cancer to be wary about GMOs: the risk of excessively impoverishing crop biodiversity (if all the wheat come from the same stem, it's only a matter of time before natural selection produce a parasite that will drive all bread and pasta eating countries into starvation) and the possibility to see GMO manufacturers gleefully abusing the excessive power and influence being the sole providers of seeds would provide them are too important to be ignored.

***

* "More importantly, profits have plummeted tremendously in states that started doing quite nicely as a result of the oil shale boom"

Which means that the enormous money invested in shale oil is being lost the bubble's burst. Frankly, I'm happy that my own country never jumped into this mess as so many "reasonable and Very Serious" people were demanding: no money was lost, no ecological disaster occurred as a result of the unseasoned industry inevitably messing up, and the oil is still here underground, ready to be used once the industry develop methods than do not produce as much waste (and risks) nor are dependent of prohibitive oil prices to be profitable.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

* "If it's Clinton or Bernie vs Trump, who will AIPAC be backing?"

The rich white dude most likely to be turned on by the slaughter of Arabs, of course -_-
AIPAC is not anymore (assuming it ever was) a "jewish" organization, despite having "Israel" in its name: it's a branch of the white bourgeoisie which favors those who advocate putting the uppity plebs back in their place.


It is an organization that relies on Jewish financial backing, however. I'm not asserting that they won't back Trump, but I'm wondering if they'll have to think about the decision a little more than usual. The spectre of Nazi Germany isn't easily forgotten, and besides that, Trump would be a complete wildcard. He might allign with Likud's interests, but no one will know until it's too late.

Robert said...

The local Trumpists in Israel are still pro-Jew. That's better than a group of Americans who hate anyone who isn't white. And they don't consider Jews to be white.

As Dr. Brin has said multiple times, the pro-Israel Republicans are not pro-Jew. They are pro-Apocalypse and want to see Revelations come about - by force if need be.

---------

As for the oil bubble and shale oil, it is a genie. It is going to haunt OPEC for so long as oil remains a source of their money. When oil prices start creeping up over $50 a barrel, oil shale wells will open up, more supply will drive down prices, and then they'll grow quiet. Supply will diminish, and then like noxious anti-profit weeds shale oil will again and again and again crop up to spoil efforts to drive up oil prices.

The smart OPEC states have been diversitizing. Heck, what Saudi Arabia should be doing is investing in the new low-cost desalinization technologies, making as much fresh water as possible, and build a huge reservoir in the middle of the desert. Create a huge manmade oasis... which will alter the ecology of the region and might even become self-sustaining after a while.

Of course, there is one other thing Saudi Arabia could do for a lower cost. They could become the breadbasket of the world if they built multiple self-contained "greenhouses" to grow crops. The evaporation from growing plants would be captured which means far less water is needed. They could drive down food costs in the region and be in a position of power afterward because if no one can afford to compete against automated Saudi farm-houses, then any country that resists Saudi policies could suddenly find itself starving or forced to import from out of the region for much higher costs.

They would need to do it before other countries in the region try to do the same thing, however. Otherwise they would not be able to have an early market advantage.

Rob H.

locumranch said...



As explored by many authors from the SciFi Golden Age, Immortality is a honey-trap, a Struldbruggian dead-end & an evolutionary cul-de-sac which promises only intellectual sterility, social stagnation & racial extinction, the Immortal being the ultimate risk-averse conservative who seeks predictable comfort & fears change, fertility & natural progress.

After all, what purpose does Creativity serve without Posterity? For without mortality, the expiry date & the dead-line, there could be no pressing justification for the life work, technical masterpiece, noble sacrifice, monument, mausoleum or progeny, only a bland & unending existence of indolence, narcissism & petty (safe) diversions as exemplified by the virtuality of 'Reality Check'.

Since 1900, the Western Enlightenment has effectively DOUBLED the human life expectancy to what end?

We have extended our dependent childhood, created an imaginary category called 'adolescence', delayed adulthood, largely forgone parenthood & squandered our vital years saving for 'retirement'. We have become a dwindling race of obese dependent TV-watching narcissists who live only for the self-gratifying today, expecting others to sacrifice themselves for our ongoing comfort, future & viewing pleasure, to the detriment of posterity.

We kill our future if we live forever & condemn humanity to an eternity of reruns.

Best
_____
Following the greater EU, the French birth rate falls below replacement levels.
http://www.reuters.com/article/france-demographics-idUSL6N0KO2FS20140114

Robert said...

It depends on the form of immortality.

And it also allows for people to continue to specialize in set fields. If, with memory enhancements and the like, a physicist can live and flourish for 200 years, then even with a slower rate of advancement, advancements will still happen. Further, those specialists (should they not allow cognitive biases to keep them from accepting new ideas) will have a wide enough range of knowledge from which they can in theory see patterns that less-knowledgeable scientists might miss.

This also holds true for AI, by the way. If an AI is provided all of the data available in science, they may notice patterns that someone with less knowledge missed. For instance, let's take patterns with prime numbers - something people missed for a long long time... but with computers and the ability to quickly examine numbers, it was found that of the last numbers 1, 3, 7, and 9 in primes, it is not a 25/25/25/25 split as to primes but in fact has a statistically significant difference between the percentages.

Infinity has patterns. As do prime numbers.

(This also brings up an interesting question. What patterns appear in prime numbers that are NOT in base-10? It is something to think about... and without powerful processing, the answers might not ever become known.)

Rob H.

David Brin said...

RobH I cannot disdain your dislike for HC, given the way you expressed it. Yes, most Americans rationalize and give far too much authority to their visceral feelings. But you seem to be saying: “I have weighed the facts and agree she’s probably not so bad; but my visceral feelings are still data and I trust them.” Since I do that, as well, I am in no position to judge.

All I can ask is that you do not just look at the individual but at the vast umbra and penumbra of appointees that will surround her. Whatever your view that she’s corrupt, it is satiable corruption and highly limited. The demo “establishment” of appointees and civil servants etc is as adult and responsible as you could ask. They do their jobs, under intense GOP scrutiny.

No, the issue becomes what can be done to loosen the insane elephant’s grip on Congress and state houses?

== In all the articles about GOP “establishment” figures talking about a fallback third party bid, only one has had to IQ to point out why they’d do that, knowing it would put Clinton in. By giving anti-Trump republicans someone - anyone - to vote for, they get those ATRs to the polls and thus help the races down-ticket.

== For his cogent and well-expressed 1st 2 paragraphs, I’ll shrug off the howls that followed. Adolescence has its drawbacks, I am VERY well aware. But giving a human life time to cross that long stretch with a mind that has wide horizons is worth something.

The assertion that the result is useless TV-addicts is an interesting one… that applies vastly, vastly more to Red America than to the portions that are engaged in athleticism, a myriad vocations, avocations and hobbies. There are more BLACKSMITHS today than during the wild west. Every medieval and settler and ancient art or craft has thousands of eager and skilled practitioners and amateur science is booming. These are not evidence of decadent lotus eaters. Locum should get out and away from the confederacy more.

Robert said...

Oh trust me, Dr. Brin, one reason I allow myself to refuse to vote for Clinton is the fact this state will not go for Trump. In some ways it is very much like an anti-vaccer refusing to vaccinate their kids or get flu shots and relying on herd immunity. However, I'm closer to the anti-vaccer who keeps an eye on the percentage of people getting immunized (and who is without kids so there's no threat to them) and when the numbers get fuzzy and herd immunity may be compromised, gets immunized. Just in case. (Which actually describes me and flu shots... though I did get a flu shot this year because the doctor offered it, I was in the office and getting blood drawn anyway, and figured "meh, why not." It may have worked seeing I remained flu-free this year.) ;)

I am safe to pursue a Libertarian ballot because of where I live. If there was a threat of Republicans getting a House or Senate seat here, I'd be voting against them because while I detest Democrats... the Republicans have become something diseased and far far worse. That and I kind of like Libertarians. They are wrong in many ways, but at their core they say something that needs to be brought back into American politics - the notion that you don't need to legislate EVERYTHING in existence.

-------

As for Red America and what would happen with Immortality... it depends on the portion of Red America. The Religious Red would refuse Immortality because it's Against God. They want to die and go to Heaven and laugh at all the people burning in Hell as a spectator sport (well, not all, but some do feel that way).

Those that do embrace Immortality would no doubt lounge about and waste the first few decades or even century of their lives... but then get bored. And they might then start doing something like young children do when provided an unstructured educational system. They play a bit, get bored, and then start teaching themselves at their own pace.

Immortal Reds could very well in a hundred or so years start moving away from their policies and beliefs as they start teaching themselves... and see through their own experiments and educational efforts that their early beliefs may in fact be flawed.

But then, I've always had that fuzzy-brained optimist hiding deep inside of me. ;)

Rob H.

A.F. Rey said...

Dr. Brin - when the book tour hits LA, I'll be looking forward to hearing your read a story or two, and getting a physical copy. I'm sure you'll let us know.

If you feel highly motivated, donzelion, and aren't afraid of adding to climate change, you could come down to San Diego on March 26 at 2:00 PM and get David to sign your copy at Mysterious Galaxy bookshop. He's also supposed to appear with some guy named Vernon Vinge, whoever he is. (I think he's the dude who refused to shake my hand one evening at that bookstore, although he was kind enough to sign a book for me. :))

LarryHart said...

Robert:

(This also brings up an interesting question. What patterns appear in prime numbers that are NOT in base-10? It is something to think about... and without powerful processing, the answers might not ever become known.)


In base 2, all but the first prime number end in "1".

Now that we know that, what do we know?

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

We have become a dwindling race of obese dependent TV-watching narcissists who live only for the self-gratifying today, expecting others to sacrifice themselves for our ongoing comfort, future & viewing pleasure, to the detriment of posterity.

We kill our future if we live forever & condemn humanity to an eternity of reruns.


"We" do, Irony Man?

LarryHart said...

Robert:

(Which actually describes me and flu shots... though I did get a flu shot this year because the doctor offered it, I was in the office and getting blood drawn anyway, and figured "meh, why not." It may have worked seeing I remained flu-free this year.)


I would strongly recommend them. They first became widely available at retail outlets in my neck of the woods in 1995, and I've had one every year since (maybe missing one or two during years with shortages). Since then, the only time I have come down with a bad flu was in 2011, immediately after my father's death. This past year, I had a bout with something flu-like (headaches, fever, tiredness), but it only lasted about three days instead of the usual multiple weeks.

So again, I can't sing the praises of flu shots enough. I'd highly recommend getting over your preconceived notions.

And then apply the lesson to politics as well. :)

locumranch said...



http://nymag.com/thecut/2012/11/states-conservative-as-their-women-are-fertile.html

In Red States where life is still recognised as brutish & short, Adults labour like Ants, seeking Immortality through Progeny & Parentage,
While in Blue States, they squander sterile hours to Grasshopper Ways, embracing a Dependency Ratio of greater than 1 to 1, and believe the siren song of Youth Never-Ending:

One, two, three, four
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
(Hey, hey, hey)
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
And don't worry 'bout tomorrow, hey
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
Live for today


Best
____
Look to Blue Europe for the things to come: The choice is made! The Traveller has come!

donzelion said...

Robert - ah, a fellow free rider? I viscerally despise many politicians, but endorse them even so, not because they represent my hopes or aspirations, but because by participating at all, I try to change the environment.

It is indeed like a flu shot. The slight reduction in my own probability of getting the flu in any given year is measured against the slight increase in mortality for more vulnerable adults or children should I transmit a flu virus (even if my own body fights off the infection and shows no symptoms). The only way to honorably participate in society is to acknowledge how we affect it - the benefits we extract from it, the costs we impose upon it - and after acknowledging that, make decisions as to what, if anything, we should do. Often, I opt to be a free rider. But not always.

As for desal plants in Saudi Arabia - who do you think paid for the technology in the first place? Just who did you think investent banks turned to for funding to capitalize the major companies to deploy those technologies? As for being the regional breadbasket - already done - but under present limits, it turns out it's far more effective to grow wheat in Ukraine (where Saudis exported it to them in the 90s), and to get milk from New Zealand (rather than exporting water from a desert).

Robert said...

How to put this...

There are some Republicans out there (maybe on the State or Local level) who are not corrupt hatemongers and who stay in power because their voters know that person and realize that while they might not be a hatemonger, they do have the voters' best interests at heart.

They are an increasingly rare and endangered species, but they exist.

These are the Republicans that Dr. Brin and Tacitus wish would retake the Republican Party. That maybe Trump is the fever dream of the hate-branch of Republicanism, and once it runs its course, sanity would return.

Abandoning sane candidates for the crazies of the Left does not make this a better country. And yes, there are crazies in the Left and some are even running for office. A remote few have even won elections.

Never forget that. Your side has its own howlers... and they are as dangerous as those on the Right.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

In Red States where life is still recognised as brutish & short, Adults labour like Ants, seeking Immortality through Progeny & Parentage,


In other words, life isn't worth the bother of living, so you might as well get it over with. But not without creating more people to suffer after you've gone.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Never forget that. Your side has its own howlers... and they are as dangerous as those on the Right.


But they're not nearly as powerful or as organized as the Republican Party.

I could countenance voting for a Republican at the very local level. In congress, I'd vote for a crazy Democrat over a nice Republican (like Mark Kirk) because it doesn't matter what the individual Senator or Congressman believes. A vote for Kirk is a vote for Paul Ryan as speaker and for Scalia Jr. on the Supreme Court. And a vote for any individual Republican for (say) Illinois State Senate is a vote for congressional districting that supports those things.

Someone recently--probably Paul Krugman--said that Tip O'Neal's "All politics is local" no longer holds. All politics is national, even Water Reclamation District or School District elections. Maybe even dog-catcher. Those people become delegates to the national conventions.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Immortality is a crazy idea. Many of those who are now working toward indefinitely longer lifespans have said publicly when someone uses the word "immortality," it is a indication that they haven't even begun to think through the problem for themselves.

How could one possibly know whether one was immortal? This, by definition, would require an infinite length of time. I have always thought that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations on human testing were overly severe, but even the FDA has never required human clinical trials to last until the end of time.

It is likely that sometime this century, the average life expectancy will reach a point where life expectancy is increasing by more than one year for every year that passes. This is called "longevity escape velocity." When this happens, the most likely time of your own death will be moving farther away into the future as time passes. In many countries, we are already 25 percent of the way to this point. There have been many 4-year periods where the average life expectancy has already increased by more than a year during that 4-year period.

At about the time that we reach longevity escape velocity, the whole idea of life expectancy will begin no longer making any sense. We will then know that, if we want, we can live a very long time. We will have no idea at all of how long that may be.

Although immortality is nonsense, indefinitely long life expectancies are not. Most people now living in advanced countries may already have an indefinitely long life expectancy. If longevity escape velocity occurs within your lifetime, you will have achieved an indefinite life expectancy.

Robert said...

Only because they did not have a chance to become so.

If enough of them get into power, they will do to the Democratic Party what the crazies did to the Republican Party. Nor will they see a problem with their actions because they see it as for the Greater Good. They see the Democrats as having gone someplace where they should not have. And they would strangle the Democratic Party with their views without meaning to.

Never say "our crazies are better than your non-crazies no matter what" because Republicans said that once. And now their crazies are devouring that party.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Jerry Emanuelson:

How could one possibly know whether one was immortal? This, by definition, would require an infinite length of time.


You're taking it way too literally. Language is poetic. Asimov's "spacers" who had lifespans around 200 years seemed like immortals to earthmen. No, they weren't truly immortal. Neither are the Norse Gods (who die in Ragnarok), nor will any human being survive heat death of the universe. That's hardly the point.

I think that what you mean by "longevity escape velocity" is what most people mean when they talk about "immortality". Maybe not in reference to fiction, but in reference to real life and the possibility for themselves. They're thinking of a lifespan which allows one to not immediately see one's demise coming closer on the horizon. And maybe long enough to extend it even more by the time it is reached. Like using your last magic wish to ask for three more wishes.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Only because they did not have a chance to become so.

If enough of them get into power, they will do to the Democratic Party what the crazies did to the Republican Party...


I'm not claiming otherwise, just focusing on the immediate time horizon. I'll deal with "later" later.

Robert said...

At which point they are devouring your party like a cancer.

Rob H.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

LarryHart, I've seen the word "immortality" used several times in this thread and other recent threads, and people are clearly talking about, at least, lifespans of hundreds of centuries. I haven't seen anyone even vaguely refer to longevity escape velocity, even using other descriptions. All of the discussion of immortality has assumed the person knows that they will never die (at least not for several centuries into the future).

What I am saying is that life expectancies will simply become unknown to everyone sometime in the next century or so, and that this is the only reasonable expectation for the future (unless there is a looming great catastrophe facing our entire civilization that sets human progress in reverse).

David Brin said...

Rob your self-description pretty much overlaps with me, including remaining engaged with libertarians in hope to convert some of them to a sensible version. Only I cannot afford to follow your clever vaxxer technique. I have influence beyond my home state and must fight the pragmatic fight.

You guys see why I love having locum around? Redders parasitically suck sustenance off productive blue america by every metric, yet his narrative is to cry the opposite and lo! It becomes true!

Blue Americans are not Europeans. BAs are the only people on Earth, other than Australians, who truly believe in competitive enterprise, which the slavish-confederate right has undermined at every turn.

LarryHart, I dwell maybe 15% in academe and spent a lot of time there. I need little else to remind me of the destructive potential of the mad-far-left. The examples of PC police bullying that Hannity & co point to are often genuinely disturbing. Only then comes the lie — that “these bad examples represent the mainstream of US liberalism.” The biggest of all contemporary Big Lies and the one thing sustaining fuel int he confederacy.

JerryE “longevity increases have often been about increasing the % of people who hit the “wall” of living to 85 or so. There has been very little (some) shifting of the actual wall itself.

Robert said...

To me, the true test of longevity is not to see how many people you can get to live to 85.

It's the number of people for whom they can remain functional and healthy until 85.

Perhaps it's because I'm once again slowly working through LotR (I'm easily distracted and I've all-but memorized the series... not to mention the fact the movie did a fantastic job of retelling the books - alas that The Hobbit trilogy dropped its ball in that attempt) but what I want is for us to live like the Men of the West - to have many many years of youth and vitality. And then finally in the last five years of our lives, we wind down. If they could even get it to the FINAL year of our life then it would be fantastic.

To live a long and healthy life, and only at the very end for it to come apart? I would gladly accept that. And the costs of that final year of life would be far less of a detriment compared to the extended decay we often go through.

Or to put it another way... I would rather live 85 healthy and productive years and then die than live to be 200 but spend a hundred of that under intensive care, barely able to move.

Rob H.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

David, it's looking more and more certain all the time that the longevity "wall" is simply running out of telomere length.

One company believes that they have a gene therapy that will lengthen human telomeres and knock that wall down. The CEO of the company had the genetic re-engineering done on herself in Colombia on September 15. She had her telomere length on each chromosome measured before the treatment. In a few months, we should know if her telomeres were actually lengthened. (She may already know by now.)

She is only 45, so it will be decades before we know if this affected her life span. They want to do this on much older people so that it doesn't take decades to confirm that longer telomeres actually break through the longevity wall.

She also got an anti-myostatin gene treatment at the same time. She says that she definitely has more muscle mass already, but that could be a placebo effect.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

LarryHart, I dwell maybe 15% in academe and spent a lot of time there. I need little else to remind me of the destructive potential of the mad-far-left.


I get that. I'm just not sure how it's relevant to the discussion/argument in progress. I get voting against Hillary in the primary if you'd rather have a better Democrat. But voting against Hillary in November, possibly giving the presidency to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in 2016--with all that entails concerning the Supreme Court--on the grounds that the Democrats might go crazy in an unspecified future? I'm not arguing so much as calling "non-sequitur".

LarryHart said...

Robert:

I would rather live 85 healthy and productive years and then die than live to be 200 but spend a hundred of that under intensive care, barely able to move.


Just so you know I don't always disagree with you. :)

I'm completely on board with you here.

David Brin said...

LarryHart who said that? I sure didn't. Even RobH didn't. I just maintain that the far-left contains some crazy PC bully jerks. And I will never stop reminding folks to keep a corner-of-the-eye wariness toward them... while fighting the current orwellian threat from the confederate right.

Robert said...

I live in a State that would vote for Hillary if she was a convicted mass-murdering cannibal rather than vote for Trump.

It. Doesn't. Matter. Who. I. Vote. For.

This state's Electoral Votes will be for Clinton, or for Sanders if he does pull off an upset. Or if something untoward like a criminal trial against Clinton for her server hi-jinks. It will not be going for Trump.

So I can vote for whoever I damn well please. And that would be the case even if this was a state that was potentially going for Trump. It is my vote. It is my decision.

There is no reason for me to vote for Clinton in this election. I would be tossing my vote away. I might as well vote my conscience.

Rob H.

Duncan Cairncross said...

"Blue Americans are not Europeans. BAs are the only people on Earth, other than Australians, who truly believe in competitive enterprise, which the slavish-confederate right has undermined at every turn."

Hi Dr Brin

I think you have got it wrong - it's not competitive enterprise - as in individuals competing

It's more complex than that -
What has actually driven the progress is Cooperative "groups" competing with each other,

The level where the in group cooperation changes to the between group competition is the difference between the Blue Americans and the Europeans
and IMHO the Europeans (and kiwis) are closer to the optimum than the Americans and the Australians
And the Scandinavians closer still
either as societies or companies

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

LarryHart who said that? I sure didn't. Even RobH didn't


Ok, then you and Robert get the last word on the subject. Because I'm responding to what sounds like an accusation that I'm willing to let Stalin take over the US because my focus is on the damage done by Republicans. And since no one else is making that accusation, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to respond to. And since anyone here already knows my position on the thing...I'm ready to drop it.

Robert said...

Larry, I suspect you and I agree on more things than we disagree on - not just with 85 healthy productive years of life. ;)

I am an ornery chap and when I get an argument in my teeth, I am worse at letting go of it than my eight-month-old pup is at letting go of plush toys. So as I am wont to say, take what I say with a grain of salt. My situation is far different than Dr. Brin's and thus I can vote whoever I want. And do consider this: the Democratic Party is so firmly entrenched here that we have had multiple moderate candidates pull a Sanders in reverse - going on the Republican Ticket so to actually being able to compete against an entrenched foe.

(Also, our Republicans are sort of like the mirror image of Blue Dog Democrats. Whatshisname who took over for Kennedy and was ousted by Warren was a RINO that had Republicans demanding a "proper conservative" fight against him in his Primary. And he's our Far Right. That's how crazy it is here.)

When you speak, I hear this: Vote Democrat no matter what because we need to drive out the Republicans. At any cost. Any Democrat is better than a Republican.

What I see is history, a saner Republican Party, and the ouster of Blue Dog after Blue Dog Democrat because negotiation is bad, leading to an increasingly conservative Republican Party that needs to pass a Purity Test that their patron Saint, Reagan, would fail.

Reflected in that is the future of the Democratic Party if care is not taken.

Rob H.

Alfred Differ said...

9^9^9
9! ^9! ^ 9!
9! ^9! ^ 9! !
The problem isn’t with Common Core. It lies with the belief that we can test mathematics knowledge as calculation skill when Common Core is supposed to be pushing it as language skill. When a kid is taught that multiplication is multiple addition and tries to simplify 3 * 50 by adding fifty copies of three together, they don’t get the language even if they get the answer.

Interesting story, but I don’t believe it. This story reminds me shooting ranges that will prepare you for the Zombie Apocalypse. They do a lot of short gun training when everyone with half a brain knows you shouldn’t get near enough to a zombie for a short gun to be needed. What could they possibly be preparing for in their euphemistic way? Pfft!

Robert said...

Just because you shouldn't doesn't mean you won't.

That said, the best bet is to thin out the zombie herd ahead of time with a high-powered rifle from over a mile away. Assuming you need supplies that are surrounded by zombies.

Of course, what isn't talked about is this: what if the zombie virus is multi-species? What if it infects... rats. Or worse: squirrels.

If zombie squirrels can spread this virus, then most people who PREPARE for a zombie apocalypse are going to die before they even know what is spreading the virus.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

What scares me is how closely the Zika resembles what some mad scientist might rationalize as a great, mostly non-lethal virus to get developing world women to hold off getting pregnant.

Alfred Differ said...

Regarding the enjoyable short story, I have to chuckle at the concept that ‘the possible’ is finite or even predictable. There is too much potential in what is currently known for recursion and order/disorder islands within each other for me to believe it. I suppose I could be wrong, but I’d place the burden of proof on those who expect finiteness until they gave me even a shred of a reason for it to be so.

Even a honey pot world designed to trap an inhabitant in a finite space would have to be carefully designed to avoid an analogous buffer overflow.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. It's a wonder that all SF authors don't drive themselves mad thinking about the possibilities. Are there stories that should NOT be told? Hmmm... I'm not a big fan of labeling ideas as toxic, but some sure are pee-your-pants worthy.

Robert said...

Madeleine L'Engle once, while on a plane trip, came up with a short story idea where the Japanese, in revenge for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, created programming in their cars so that on the anniversary of the destruction of Hiroshima, they'd all crash themselves into bridges, buildings, and the like.

She chose not to write the story.

While she didn't drink... I think that is an answer to your question. ;)

Rob H.

Mike Breeden said...

I've heard that story of immortality before. Grow slowly to bare maturity and then live long and healthy as a care free "youth". It seems ideal to lengthen the time natural selection has to act, before a maturity of parentage. I've heard that story before. Yes, lets all become fairies!!!

Mike Breeden said...

Alfred - one of my studies is morality and I assure you there are stories that should not be told. Most are of choices that must be made between two bad outcomes. I know many stories you do not want to know. ... modern cinema does exploit stories like that for shock value... Some of John Travolta's movies for example. I think those contain lessons that should not be taught.
I can tell you of a story that is sad, but you should know. Look up the "Sack of Baghdad" in the 12th century. It explains a few things.
It was interesting. I read an article recently about Machiavelli and his discussion of personal vs political morality. I had never made the association between political morality and the ancient concept of the Morality of Kings, but that is it.

Smurphs said...

Robert, I feel for you. I, too, live in a state (PA) where "It. Doesn't. Matter. Who. I. Vote. For."

My local, County, State and Congressional districts will all go to a nicely gerrymandered 60% GOP win. The statewide Presidential vote will be reliably Democratic.

Still, you never know. Just look what we were all saying about Trump 6 months ago. Three months ago. Last month. Now, it seems impossible he will not be the nominee. I wonder what next month will bring. I have put my political crystal ball away til November.

Vote your conscience. I will as well.

And enjoy the ride!

Mike Breeden said...

Interesting that there is rational political discourse here. I had rather given up on finding that. Does anyone want to take a stab at describing the difference between a Liberal and Progressive? I find myself claiming to be a Progressive rather than Liberal, because:
A Liberal believes the world should be fair and everyone should be happy ... or some such ideal.
A progressive is looking at society progressing along a path of more developed civilization, often based on hard decisions and balancing of what is good and what is reasonable, to take advantage for all from what civilization provides.
Those are very thin descriptions meant to lay out a thought. The reason I cover this is that the Democratic party encompasses both of these and is very highly (and I think sometimes quite rightly) criticized for its liberal ideals, but is not respected for its progressive ideas. The world is changing. While conservatism, using strategies that have worked in the past, usually makes a lot of sense, now is not that time. It is a time of change that has taken us to one side or another of crisis. Idealism is great, but now we need hard headed realism looking at problems we face and how to overcome them. I think that would be a good message for the Democratic politicians to focus on, but is seems I never hear them speak of a future that overcomes the dangers of the future... Though that is better than what the conservatives often speak of and appeal to.

Smurphs said...

Mike Breeden,

I have to run and tuck the kids in bed, but...

Take a browse thru the archives here. Our good Host as discussed just this question several times.

And you will find hours and hours of rational political discourse. And some not so rational ;)

Always time well spent.

Tony Fisk said...

Alfred, some Singularitarians came up with a concept called "Rosko's Basilisk", which is a malevolent version of Stross' Eschaton AI.

The idea is a variant on the old saying: "Speak of the Devil and the Devil appeareth."

The morality is the same as that expressed by Peter 'Wormtail' Pettigrew when, after mutilating himself to resurrect Voldemort, he exclaims in grovelling wonder: "Master has given me a new hand!" (Peter, you had a perfectly good hand *before* you unleashed this bit of nastiness to abase yourself before.)

David Brin said...

Alfred there are stories I have refused to write.

MB whatever term that liberals choose will be attacked and poisoned by Fox etc by insisting that it means far-leftist. It is an infamous tactic. I use Smithian Liberal referring to Adam Smith and pointing out that the wealth we use to do progressive things came from competitive and innovative market enterprise… and that kind of market was always (as Adam Smith showed) destroyed by oligarchy, not socialism. See tomorrow’s posting.

Mike Breeden said...

Dang it, another flashback--
Oh I remember. You speak of the Munch Box and yes, it was such a special place that it still is a special place. It is a part of Chatsworth which seemed to have many special places for some of us lucky enough to have been there. I could tell you of a few, oh yes I remember, I remember walking past the Candy Cat and the Country Squire and Sunset liquors and Los Toros every morning on my way to Miss Lee's kindergarten class at Chatsworth Park Elementary, but let me share a memory of Chatsworth that though gone now, was cool and dim and beautiful and green and timeless. Let me remind you. When I was young, Chatsworth was in transition from a quiet agricultural town of endless sunny orange groves to becoming suburbia. Many of us were children of the city and the suburbs that technology created, but we were lucky enough to grow up in this quiet, idyllic village before it became part of the mega city that is now LA.
 Walk with me up Canoga Avenue in another time when orange groves stretched from Topanga Canyon to Balboa. As you cross Devonshire you would cross Brown's Creek that starts far up in Oat Mountain. Cross the street and look at the huge row of eucalyptus trees on the west side of the street protecting an orange grove from the Santana Winds. On the other side are houses of the new people in town that work in the young aerospace industry, the movie industry and the new local business of the San Fernando Valley. Still, here Canoga Ave is just a dusty dirt road running through farmland. On the other side of the creek is a large meadow that is a sheep farm that goes from the creek to Eton Avenue. As you pass San Jose Street there is a field on the right where they grow squash to feed cattle and small ranch spreads on the left backing to the railroad tracks, including a pheasant farm. The sides of the road rise up to the thin fences of the fields. Tumble weeds line the road. Now you are walking in to Chatsworth as it was, a quiet place of farms that usually show no movement except in the frenetic times that mark the seasons of a farm. It is dusty. The plants have a brown cover from dirt the occasional car leaves drifting behind. There are dark brown beer bottles in the space beside the road. Not that so many are thrown there, but that there has been so much time for them to gather undisturbed. You cross Chatsworth Street, an adventure so pristine that no child today would be allowed in such an unspoiled solitary place. Then it was children that imagined monsters in the unknown. Now it is the adults. Really, it was just quiet farm fields beyond where the developers had ventured and the city had spread.
  
I knew I was past where I was supposed to venture, but this was remote enough that my parents had not thought to forbid my venturing here. It was empty anyway. I was almost to the start of the hills. It was fields surrounded by giant eucalyptus with a majesty I was to young to understand, but still a presence I could sense. There were real giants when I grew up. They were ageless dark green giants and very mysterious. The farms had a vitality I could feel and still feel to this day. There was life in those fields, from the giant trees to the fragrant groves to the spreading vines and the big green caterpillars on the silk weed plants beside the road. I remember the buzzards circling high above that told of both life and death. It was quiet and empty and had the beauty of empty places and the peace of quiet places and then I would head home to the familiar comfort of a so civilized home. Chatsworth sometimes seemed too wild even to an adventurous child as myself. 
 
The dirt roads were dusty, but as they were paved, the vitality and wildness vanished, but oh yes, oh yes, I do remember. Beauty and wonder like that must not be forgotten and the mountains will always be there to remind those that remember to look for those small remaining places of Chatsworth as it was.

Alfred Differ said...

@Rob H: So instead of my Toyota trying to kill me, my VW merely tries to get around our environmental laws. Heh.

@Mike Breeden: The way I was taught has 'liberal' and 'progressive' mostly turned around the other way compared to what you are using. A Liberal wouldn't be all that inclined to use the word 'should' at all, let alone fair in the sense of fair outcomes. The danger with 'should' is the implied measure. Where does it come from?

Language shifts happen, though, even without the intentional ones perpetrated by one's political opponents. Dig around a bit and you'll find different meanings for 'liberal' in the US, UK, and Central Europe. We've even got Australians and New Zealanders here who can help show the diversity of just the one term. It's such a mess that we have to point to historical figures and ask "Do you mean that term in the sense of that person?" It works up until people disagree with what that person actually said and believed.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Does anyone want to take a stab at describing the difference between a Liberal and Progressive?"

Do you want me to add the french terms to the mix so things can get even more confusing?

Because in french "Libéral" means right-winger, and the more libéral you are, the farther to the right you go. "Libertaire" doesn't means libertarian (we use "Anars de Droite" -right-wing anarchists- instead) but libertine, and progressive used to depict the center-left, but the term as taken an elitist bend in recent years, as in "Progress is good, but can only happen if the Very Smart People™ are allowed to rule without interference by the moronic plebs".

Still not lost?

LarryHart said...

Smurphs:

Robert, I feel for you. I, too, live in a state (PA) where "It. Doesn't. Matter. Who. I. Vote. For."


Heh. My brother also lives in Pennsylvania, and he voted for Nader in 2000. I used to blame him for Bush, until President Obama was elected, at which point I realized that without Bush being so bad, we'd never have elected a Black Guy as president, and in fact, might have been electing Vice President Lieberman to the office instead.

As in the graphic novel "Watchmen", "It never ends."

David Brin said...

Okaaaaaaaaay then. https://archive.is/m9B64

LarryHart said...

Robert:

When you speak, I hear this: Vote Democrat no matter what because we need to drive out the Republicans. At any cost. Any Democrat is better than a Republican.


Fair enough, and since I also suspect we're more friends than foes, I'll just say I see why you hear that.

What I'm actually saying is more like "Anyone other than a Republican is better than any Republican". And that's only given the political realities in place at the moment. I'm not saying it will always be thus. I'm saying I'd like to get to the point where it is no longer thus.

And when you talk, I hear "Clinton is as bad as a Republican, maybe worse." Which might actually be the case if we were just talking about the one office by itself. Whereas I feel the president him/herself is limited in the damage he/she can do personally, and the real damage is done by a Republican Congress having someone who won't veto their bills, and the damage they can do together by appointing activist judges to the Supreme Court. I'm less worried about the harm a president (even Trump) can do on his/her own than I am about the harm a party can do in the other two branches without the presidency as a check.

Many assumptions lead into what we hear when someone else says a one-liner.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

9^9^9
9! ^9! ^ 9!
9! ^9! ^ 9! !


Now, you sound like Herman Cain.

:)

David Brin said...

MB see 1930s San fernando depicted in Huxley's AFTER MANY A SUMMER DIES THE SWAN... which becoms a sci fi novel on the last page.

Robert said...

Actually, Larry, that is spot on.

In fact, I have stated I feel Clinton is as bad as any Republican.

I also stated "but the Supreme Court and having a pro-abortion Supreme Justice is vital."

The whole women's rights thing.

Thus while I detest Clinton and do not want her as President, and while I feel she is as bad as any of the Republicans... her pro-abortion stance is more important to me than me personal feelings about her.

That and it doesn't matter who I vote for. This state is going for Hillary.

Rob H.

donzelion said...

@RobH - catching up on a cadence of interesting thoughts - first and foremost -
"Of course, what isn't talked about is this: what if the zombie virus is multi-species? What if it infects... rats. Or worse: squirrels."

- nah, this is the worst of all:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombeavers
Just think, Zombies that eat wood, and make you not only undead, but a beaver. Wipe out your life, and dam up your water too. Evil! (And just think of a zombeaver with a plush toy in its mouth...) ;-)

Still, the difference between endorsing a political party which admittedly errs quite often but not as much as its chief rival, and refraining from endorsing anyone at all is the Plato v. Aristotle debate. For a Platonist, the highest order goes to the philosopher who withdraws from politics, and criticizes from a place of remote disinterest (not 'uninterest' or boredom - just total detachment). For an Aristotlian, better a lousy party that can be guided to be less lousy, through one's own contribution, than a lousy party that cannot be redeemed due to an inherent design flaw.

"My situation is far different than Dr. Brin's and thus I can vote whoever I want."
You always can. But isn't a better question not "what can one do, but what should one do? (And all that said, Mitt Romney brought a great deal to America with the vast expansion of health care in Mass which he led - even if Bain may be vulture capital - and Scott Brown was significantly less partisan than most Republicans, hardly a 'moderate' - but also, no Ted Cruz/Rubio).

"What I see is history, a saner Republican Party, and the ouster of Blue Dog after Blue Dog Democrat because negotiation is bad..."

What I see is that no political party can be trusted to be its best, without the best participating in their system, and without such participating extending beyond voting and donating. A watchful dog - whether it be a blue dog, a red dog, yellow dog, or purple polkadotted - is better than a sleeping dog. The key cannot be "vote thus or such" - so much as "awaken."

Paul451 said...

Robert,
"A violent uprising against the Democrats would fail if the Liberals end up armed and able to fight back, after all."

{sigh} Again with the myth that a few handguns and cheap AR-15 copies can stop a group being taken down by a hostile government.

"We are seeing some significant signs that the Republican Party is falling apart. They keep power through widescale gerrymandering. Their economic policies are being shown over and over again to be smoke and mirrors. Their base has grown angry and is turning against them. The question isn't "can Republicans maintain their hold" but "how many years left does the Republican Party have?" "

No, the question is why are the Democrats so pathetic at taking advantage of that collapse, those economic-policy failures, that anger of the grass-roots.

Why are Democrats so scared of, embarrassed by, their own beliefs.

Re: Semi-immortality, compressing the collapse
"If they could even get it to the FINAL year of our life then it would be fantastic."

Hmmm, interesting culture could develop if we were able to do that. Knowing, with absolute certainty, the approximate date of your death, knowing the pattern of your inevitable decline once the doctor says, "This is it".

Would we focus on palliative care, or would we develop a culture of going out with a bang? Would we have special "terminal"-cards that absolve businesses of liability if they let you do something stupid-dangerous? Would dying creatively become an art-form?

Paul451 said...

Smurphs,
"I, too, live in a state (PA) where "It. Doesn't. Matter. Who. I. Vote. For." "

If you are in a state that's actually Blue (judging by the Presidential results) but gerrymandered Red at other levels, then Your. Vote. Matters. more than most. Every county elections supervisor, every judge, etc etc. Every race matters. And especially, if you aren't up to your eyeballs in down-ticket primaries, actively campaigning in every close primary contest, you're abdicating your responsibilities.

(Robert's actually also in the same situation, where he can play amongst the Dem primaries, swing the close races, promote a reformist agenda. But he's already too hooked on the self-satisfaction of his own helplessness. You, otoh, may still be convinced of the benefit of "hacking the system".)

Mike,
Re: Liberal vs Progressive

The terms are largely synonymous, politically. But if you take the names literally, then a liberal would favour policies of freedom. Making more people, more "free". A progressive would favour policies of progress, making things better for more people. Mostly those policies would overlap, but presumably if we "win", there will become a point where they tug in different directions.

Both are distinct from "left", which has another ideal they are trying to move towards (or back to.)

Alfred,
"When a kid is taught that multiplication is multiple addition and tries to simplify 3 * 50 by adding fifty copies of three together, they don't get the language even if they get the answer."

Interesting example. Apparently if the same kid added three copies of 50, for a question that requested the additive expansion, under Common Core he'd be failed because "we haven't taught them commutation yet".

(Had a similar example a few years back when I updated a bookkeeping qual. Answered a question from the first chapter using ordinary double-entry rules and had the answers failed, "because we haven't learnt that yet". Didn't even occur to me to treat the question as single-entry. The difference is that my examiner got to the third or fourth "wrong" answer in that batch of questions, then apparently clicked to what I was doing, and went back and corrected my grading back to a pass; just adding a note to explain what the chapter was trying to ask. Human in the loop. "Prove you are not a robot.")

"9^9^9
9! ^9! ^ 9!
9! ^9! ^ 9! !"


((9!^9!)!^9!)!

9!↑⁹!9! which is 9!^9!^9!^9!^9!^... 362880 times.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "the question is why are the Democrats so pathetic at taking advantage of that collapse, those economic-policy failures, that anger of the grass-roots."

Because Democrats are reformists, whereas grass-root rage fuels revanchism, and the two don't mix well: a bully who promises to hurt someone else will always have more appeal.

Which is why, I think, the GOP establishment is so repulsed by Trump: he's reminding people of a template that could be reused in a campaign against them: Instead of "The Mexicans are rapists, the Muslims hate Us and Violence against the Undeserving is Good", you could get a demagogue shouting "The Rich are fucking parasites who regard Us as moronic monkeys just good enough to do menial works and be used as fucktoys from time to time and we'll be free only when they have been thoroughly exterminated" and attract the same audience than Trump, especially after a few years with Trump in power because
1. People would know from personal experience that kowtowing to the oligarch who promise preferential access to the scraps doesn't provide any improvement to one's material comforts
2. The Trump regime would likely have mimicked other authoritarians regimes like Putin's or Assad's and focused their repression on the peaceful idealists thinking that if the bloodthirsty extremists are the only opponents remaining, the Regime will preserve its popular support by virtue of being the moderately less shitty alternative, thus creating a vacuum that a revanchist bully could easily fill.

Jonathan Sills said...

"Okaaaaaaaaay then. https://archive.is/m9B64"

Give a whole new meaning to "the Internet of Things", don't it? ;)

donzelion said...

@Laurent, Paul451 - "Why are Democrats so scared of, embarrassed by, their own beliefs...why are the Democrats so pathetic at taking advantage of that collapse, those economic-policy failures, that anger of the grass-roots..."

Bill Bradley put his finger on the problem in 2005 with this piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/30/opinion/a-party-inverted.html

Republicans operate through a pyramid, held together by money. Trump doesn't have as much of it as other Republican players toward the top, but the players on that side who actually have the most money dilute it's effect, spreading it about to attack a large number of "enemies" and fix the loyalty of their "followers."

Democrats operate through an inverted pyramid, held together by the charisma of a presidential candidate, but it's a deceptively shaky foundation, with most power wielded by numerous factions - ethnic constituencies (Jewish, African-American, congealing Latino groups), labor unions, women, youth, wealthy (who champion specific causes rather than the party) - each of which presses down upon the leader, each of which must be separately appeased to remain motivated to participate, each of which grows quickly disillusioned when its pet projects are deferred.

Hillary may or may not be a good woman, but she has never cut the charismatic figure Obama did in 2008 - she offers general progressivism and competence, to Obama's offer of 'hope.'

Deuxglass said...

And in Europe we have different problems.

Robert said...

I have been wondering about the accusations of rape and sexual assault on New Year's Eve in Germany in which male refugees were blamed. At first I was pondering if it was anti-immigration opponents in Germany faking events... but now I'm wondering if ISIS might have sent agents into Germany (perhaps enroute to France for terror attacks) and encouraged the assaults so to turn Western sentiments against Islamic refugees so to stop the flow of Syrians into Europe and increase the hatred of Muslims and Syrians against Europeans who "refuse to share their wealth."

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

Syria and Libya have been posterchildren as to the flaws of the Democrat method of waging war. Both are wars waged under Obama... and both have been far less effective than Clinton's war in Serbia.

Part of the problem is that America has war fatigue. Afghanistan and Iraq left us with a sour taste in our mouths. We don't want to be losing boys and girls in another country that hates us. So we bomb Gaddafi's military when they are stomping out protestors and then wash our hands of things... and this sours things with Russia which sees it as more Bush-style Nation Building. That limits further what we can do in Syria... which ends up a cesspool that breeds terrorists that even al Qaeda looks at and goes "um... no."

So the Democrat method of waging war may in fact be no matter or worse than the Republican version (with the exception that the Shrug used the nation's credit card to pay for his adventurism while giving his buddies who put him in power big tax breaks and first dibs in Iraq after that nut was cracked). The reason Clinton's war in Serbia was so successful... may be the area where the war was fought.

Rob H.

Deuxglass said...

Robert,

Those assaults did take place in Germany and are well-documented. Secondly, I suggest you study in depth the Serbian War and find out what really happened and not just what the mainstream media reported.

Robert said...

Shows me to post before sufficient coffee.

I deleted a long rambling post in which I went into further details on my thoughts and on capitalizing on assaults that had happened, and condensed it. Obviously I overdid the editing. My apologies. I'd moved away from the "it's faked" view after seeing more proof it wasn't, and started considering factors which could be behind a widescale number of events all involving refugees.

My comments on the Serbian war remain valid. Serbia is a different situation than Syria or Iraq. Thus a method of waging war that worked in Serbia may not work in other regions. And let's face it - if the U.S. (under the elder Bush) had set up two no-fly zones in Iraq, one over the South and one over the North, and had supported the popular uprising in southern Iraq, then we'd have less ill will from Iraqis over what we did over there - and if we'd kept the Iraqi military employed but started instituting controls, it is possible far fewer of them would have gone off to create militias and the resulting chaos when various armed factions resumed their grudges.

----------

I'm also looking at recent reports of people jumping to conclusions about the bombing in Brussels that just happened... and the knee-jerk belief it's ISIS. Fortunately the news media article I'm reading did say "or other terrorist groups" but I doubt even if it turns out al Qaeda or another non-ISIS group was behind these attacks that Trump, Cruz, and crew would admit to being wrong.

It makes me wish we had a Republican with military experience running, as such a candidate would take the wind out of Trump's wings - far better to have someone with experience dealing with these things than some blowhard who panders to the base without thinking things through.

This will be a problem for Hillary, however... and for Sanders. But especially Clinton, seeing that Benghazi will become the trumpet call among Republicans. "Benghazi happened under Clinton's watch and she fumbled the ball! We need a President who can keep us safe!" No doubt the anti-Sanders message would be claiming he's a peacenik and we need someone with spine.

The irony is that under the Bushes and Reagan, things weren't as safe. But Republicans will just handwave that away and claim it to be lies. Still, maybe that message needs to start being spread now. A few viral videos with red shading of incident after incident that happened under Bush, Bush, and Reagan... and maybe a 9/11 documentary suggesting the Shrug turned our intelligence apparatus onto the outgoing President and ignored signs that al Qaeda was planning something. Well, if such a thing could be put together in six months.

Rob H.

A.F. Rey said...

Okaaaaaaaaay then. https://archive.is/m9B64

I think that would be classified as "one of those stories you shouldn't write." :)

Robert said...

Going off on a tangent for a moment, recently my young dog has been vocalizing - making various sounds like he's trying to say words to me - and I'm starting to wonder what he's saying.

We teach dogs our language through a combination of hand signals and verbal words. They do have a capacity to learn some language. But now I'm pondering... how much effort do people make to comprehend what our dogs are trying to tell us? And does it differ from dog to dog? Does it differ depending on the language? Or the gender of the dog owner?

Just what is going on in those little doggie brains? And could part of my dog's frustration be that this dull idiot just doesn't get it with comprehending what he says... even though he's able to understand me (somewhat)?

Of course, part of it could also be a tired young dog fighting off a nap.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Assuming we live in a sane world where Trump is defeated… oh the sci fi worlds that many authors will create for him to star in!

The democratic way of war only works when you have partners on the ground who can carry things forward. In Libya I remain perplexed why Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria do nothing. Quagmire fear? That’d be worse than this?

Robert said...

Unfortunately, we didn't have boots on the ground this time. Which suggests the Democratic method of war needs more thought before starting war - ie, working with partners and getting them to agree to have boots on the ground.

Learning opportunities. But costly ones.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

onward


onward

David Smelser said...


While it might not matter whether you have 3 rows of 50 items or 50 rows of 3 items to solve the arithmetic problem of 3*50, when it comes to higher maths a 3x50 matrix is different from a 50x3 matrix. It is in the learner's best interest if the depiction of 3*50 objects and a 3x50 array be compatible.

Mike Breeden said...

Fazinating. Actual thoughtful political discourse, certainly compared to what can be found by that name most places these days. Yet our host, the good Dr. Brin is more known as one of the premier speculative writers of the day. Then what can I do but combine the two? So lets explore future something sciency that makes history and politics. We won't mess around with the boring stuff either. Remember though, you may not always be able to know when I am telling the truth or not.

Historical events tend to unfold over time. Arch Duke Ferdinand's assassination precipitated dramatic events, but the treaties calling for action were developed over generations. I'm not that patient. Sudden developments have rarely made differences to the unfolding of political and social development. ... Until perhaps now. Things just happen faster now and there are new "forces"..... Ohhhh sciency! These are external forces acting on the society. It has happened before like the philosophy of Christianity on the Philosophy of Iron Age Rome or the Black Death. (No, not military events like the Sack of Baghdad. Those are traditional news.)

Well, if we are going to make up some history, we better make it interesting, so lets add a human element like romance or fear. Black plague nicely combined two of those, but it was just too short on the morality play aspect to sell. Must have a morality play. You were supposed to learn that from Star Trek. It wasn't the over the top acting that sold that! Scientists seem just lousy at romance, so lets skip that altogether too. OK, fear it is! Thy name is Zika.

Change happens when there is disruption. Maybe it will be from climate change - I am hearing rumblings that may be disinformation or they may be warning of something we are going to know about shortly. Still, that is not going to unfold fast enough for the ADHD SW crowd. Maybe it will be automation and AI. It's sciency and has good moral dimensions, but I'm not so sure about the fear part. No one seems seriously worried about Terminators. PCs are notoriously slow moving. Zika has so much more to offer. We have a yuge cultural war going on about abortion now with yuge political ramifications and frankly the anti-choice groups are winning. Along comes the Zika virus and it is spreading rapidly. Will that external factor cause a disruption? The Pope has already said that birth control may be moral in that extreme case, but in highly Catholic Brazil, it did not disrupt the issue of abortion... yet. Look forward when Zika is common in the US and the results are known. Pretty bad results. We don't know just how that will play out yet, but think about how the increase in recognized autism has sparked terror and it causes far less damage than the Zika virus. Autism is about children and so hits us in our moral instincts. The first question is could that change the trajectory of the culture war and then history? So instead of the discussion of politics being about current political forces, what if it changes to including a response to a novel, politically non-traditional events. Such are the things that SciFi considers, but we all know how SciFi tends to become Sciency.

OK, maybe Zika, maybe not. There may be cures or let people get it young like they did rubella. I want something that will foster such moral terror, coming with such inevitability that it changes everything, forever... but in a warm, good, sciency way.... but only because the solution will be sciency. OH I GOT IT! I know one that scares the heck out of me even. It's sneaking up on us right now and will effect children more than autism, but more randomly and insidiously than Zika. The result is going to hit us like wham, bam, thank you ma'am. History changes over night. Only the purest science can fix it up (screw those dystopian negative vibe endings), but then it leads to a bright egalitarian sciency fiction future for all of humanity

Oops, hit 4000 characters, but whaddya think of it? Will it hang?

Mike Breeden said...

Cool! Aldous Huxley, Immorality, Citizen Kane and the Chief all in SoCal! How can you go wrong? An acquaintance of the Chief introduced me to John Galt once. I said he didn't look like a "John" and he admitted it was a nom de plume, that his real name was Nicola.

Speaking of Immortality, as it seems is the discussion, I got permission to describe in this reality the two main forms of practical immortality that humans on the outside use. I claimed it was a creative writing assignment for a remedial English class taught by a struggling Science Fiction author. They bought it, because I have previously demonstrated I'm sort of a wanna be author, just without any talent for it.

Speaking of which. I do have multiple incarnations in this reality (at least one other). I'm not "immediately" sure where they fit in my personal timeline, but I stumbled upon some writing that is so wussy wassy and stiff, that I had to have written it. There is a lot of it at this one website. It sounds like me anyway though it seems to be completely anonymous - another hint it's me. I had no interest in making contact. I know how boring I am. It does seem to be a very nice stuff if you like the ocean. Apparently I was here in non-professional capacity at some point, because it sounds like all I was doing was having a good time. Here's a link to one example - Lonely Shores. It seems good.

In any case, I will write something up about how immortality is commonly and practically accomplished in its two primary forms. No, I'm not talking about melange and we still have never been able to steal the secret of Boosterspice. Besides, both of those methods have well known draw backs. This is about practical, economical and industrial scale immortality that avoids the main practical and moral pitfalls so common to the practice.

Lets see if html tags really work...Ahhh.... no images and it was so pretty... looked like the dawn of creation.
http://diver.net/seahunt/Shores/IMG_2175Sunset.JPG

Mike Breeden said...

Ya know I was nattering on the other day about some external thing that might effect politics or history faster than most traditional historical events unfold, maybe some technology or other sciency thing. While I'm no master biologist like Mr. Darwin or Mr. Wilson, I do understand that life is about evolution and that natural selection drives that system. You've got to admit, what we've been calling human progress has been the removal of natural selection. You would think that that has got to have an effect. Really, thinking about biology, I have to wonder about the change to much smaller families. Just a short time ago, in terms of biology, everyone tried to have as many children as possible, because a lot of them were going to die very young. Now we seem to have gone from a quantity strategy to quality where we only have a few children. Most survive, but they have to have a lot more education and training for the modern world. Again though, that lowers the rate of natural selection. Ya know, I recall that a major function of natural selection is to remove random mutations that don't work. Only a very few mutations are beneficial. Most are actually bad and break the function of the gene. I seem to recall it is called Genetic Load and you need natural selection to remove those errors. ...Doesn't sound so good, because then natural selection means death, something easy to forget these days. It's not a daily thing like it used to be. If you are mentioning broken genes, I guess something else that is a big change is that parents are far older than they used to be and I know there is research that shows that as they get older, they have more mutations in their germ cells. Actually I can think of other things that would probably break the genes as well. I mean genes have to be certain sequences to work. They are an integral thing. If they broke or became non-integral for any reason, I guess they would be defective and would be that genetic load. Wow. Almost as scary as that Zika problem, because even if the non-integral gene didn't effect a person much, their children and theirs would inherit the broken gene. That's how genetics works, good or bad, it adds up and most of those broken genes would be bad. Wow. You could get to a point where a major percentage of children had genetic problems at birth. Well, they can now do inexpensive genetic sequencing, so if that is happening it should be known. I seem to vaguely recall they are seeing what they are calling "de novo" mutations (Latin for fresh) that are not inherited from the parents. They are very commonly (35 to 60%) the cause of problems in at risk groups that have been sequenced, like premature babies or mental retardation (the most expensive disability). Same numbers for autism, but less clear. I guess those could be broken genes. I can't see what else you could call them. I wonder what the rate is in general. I bet someone knows. I bet it is high, but in any case, it is increasing. That's inevitable as gene things are. Now that would qualify as a sciency external effect that could alter politics and history in short order. I mean, it's about the most basic thing in human instinct, survival. Autism was enough to cause a disruption... terror... whatever. What if it looked like there was going to be a constant increase in minor and major birth defects? I bet that would freak out some people, especially the women. It would have a broader effect than Zika ever did. I bet the effects of that would be really far reaching, because even if you could come up with a technical solution (Hmmmm.... CRISPR wouldn't solve it, but with a little thought I bet I could think of something even cheaper that would.) It is still about children and human survival, so inevitably there is a huge moral dimension to the problem that would have to be addressed as well. That might be a big enough thing to even effect history. Whoa! Someone should write a book about it.

Mike Breeden said...

I should make a comment per the previous discussion of genetics. One point that must be understood from that is that the rate of genetic deterioration is a constant. It is the rate of Natural Selection that has changed. It is not about rich or poor. It is not even about genetically gifted or not. It is a statistical thing as pitiless and cruel as Nature is known for.
Skipping the details of how to effectively and economically husband our genes as Dr. Dagen Wells has demonstrated can be done, there are some interesting political and social ramifications. The first is that our ideals have led to declarations of equality, but that is only in the eyes of the law and not always then. Husbanding our genes is going to lead to a form of genetic equality never imagined. Pretty much everything in Nature from virus to society is about evolution. The nature of that will change. The nature of just about everything will change.
A political ramification arises. What is the meaning of the word "freedom"? Freedom of travel, association, belief, dress, preferences, etc.? It is fertile ground for debate, but a new freedom becomes an issue. Who will make the decisions about genes when we wrest that from Nature's dark hands? If you do not control the destiny that is your genes, you do not have freedom? Yes, there will be a balance and parents cannot decide to let their children inherit broken genes that did not come from them, but there will be those that will think they know best the future of humanity out of selfishness, or worse still, good intentions.

I will add a few points about immortality as well. A well lived life removes fear of death, but makes it no less sweet. An immortality of unending aging and frailty is a waste of time, only good for those that have never lived and so fear death. While immortality has been a goal of some since well before the pyramids were built to achieve it, our vision of immortality is of youth, vigor, adventure and love. If there is no room for happiness and even growth, it will be a short immortality. Life can be extended as can health, but only so much and it is that youth and vigor that people crave.

Immortality is about you and you are not just what you are now. Using an electrode studded salad bowl to record who you are now does not make you. You are so much more than you are now. Besides, how the brain works is different between individuals. It seems unlikely that the brain could be analyzed. What it comes down to is belief, that ultimate frail arbitrator of human reality. Is it endless life, endless suffering or neither, just an imitation? It is the person that decides, but now it is the person that decides when it ends, not nature.

Mike Breeden said...

This thread seems to have lost its mortality... I hope I didn't kill it, but I will place no bets on that.
Well, I wrote most of the essay on immortality, but still have to write the part about the second form of it... That is shorter, but unfortunately, I'm already at over 10,000 characters. Fortunately, it was fun writing it and I will have to finish, but taxes and a funeral first.
Like many things I have studied about humans though, in the case of immortality, the interesting part is that the key to a lot of potentials is not the technology that makes it possible, but the strategy that makes it survivable. We have instincts that dominate a lot of our actions. If they are not kept happy, they will not support our survival. No technology can compensate for that.
Does anyone want to see it or did this truly die?