Saturday, March 26, 2016

Recent SciFi: a grab-bag of books for you

Looking for some great Sci Fi books to read? We'll get to a recommendation list of recent novels, below! But first, here are the nominees for the Nebula Awards for Best Science Fiction & Fantasy novel of 2015, to be awarded in May:

The Grace of Kings, by Ken Liu
Raising Caine, by Charles E. Gannon
Ancillary Mercy, By Ann Leckie
The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemison
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard, by
      Lawrence M. Shoen
Updraft, by Fran Wilde

Oh, great news... the guest speaker at this year's Nebula Awards Conference and Banquet in Chicago will be comedian and Daily Show veteran - and bona fide SciFi fan - John Hodgman. Wish I could attend! 

(Update: The award for best novel went to Naomi Novik's lovely Uprooted!)

Meanwhile, the Hugo Awards are open for nominations through March 31. 

My recent story, The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss from the anthology Old Venus is posted online on my website...and also (ahem) available in my just-released short story collection, Insistence of Vision. Your comments are welcome on Amazon, Goodreads etc!)

== Terrific books by others ==

More Than Human author Ramez Naam has won the 2016 Philip K. Dick Award for his novel Apex -- the conclusion to his near-future, global-spanning thriller Nexus trilogy -- imagining a genetically enhanced, technologically linked, post-human world.

A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction: Nisi Shawl gives an introduction to notable black authors ranging from W. E.B. DuBois to the great Samuel Delaney, from Octavia Butler to N.K. Jemison, Steven Barnes and Nnedi Okorafor, who have shaped - and continue to shape - the literature of science fiction.

From Ursula K. Le Guin to Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson to Joanna Russ and Joan Vinge, to the magnificent Alice Sheldon, a look at some memorable titles in feminist science fiction. Perhaps my novel Glory Season? Naw. Though I wrote it in that spirit, aiming for a worthy contribution to the pro-liberty and equality conversation, I never really expected it to be well-received, though the matters raised remain interesting.  Anyway I am a big fan of the sub-genre and I hope you'll be, too. It's stuff that needs ongoing discussion.

Covering topics from the metaphysics of The Matrix to the nature of free will and the ethics of robot rights, Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Super Intelligence, edited by Susan Schneider, uses science fiction as a window to explore big philosophical issues, with incisive essays by Ray Kurzweil, Daniel Dennett, Nick Bostrom, as well as relevant works from the likes of Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury.

Tech Insider takes offers recent science fiction novels that envision a future of climate change – termed CliFi for Climate Fiction -- from Monica Byrne’s The Girl in the Road to Liu Cixin's The Three Body Problem, and a new anthology of Climate Fiction: Loosed Upon the World (ed. by John Joseph Adams), as well as a couple of the novels mentioned below...

And this from io9: Nineteen times someone gets thrown out into the vacuum of space in Sci Fi movies.

== Recent Science Fiction Picks ==

The latest novel from Neal Stephenson, this 880 page epic portrays a devastating planetary-level extinction event: Seveneves begins with the sudden disintegration of the moon (by unknown forces) into seven pieces, which continue to collide and disintegrate. Anticipating the 'Hard Rain' of debris and fire that will rage across earth’s surface and annihilate its population, humanity comes together to construct an orbiting space colony -- a Cloud Ark to preserve the genetic legacy of our ecosystems. Billions left behind on the surface die in the ensuing conflagration, while a couple hundred develop the technological, political and social skills to survive long-term in space. Seveneves offers lovingly detailed descriptions of futuristic robots, space modules, docking maneuvers and orbital mechanics. The Big Picture comes in when the final third of the novel picks up five thousand years later…

A riveting and philosophical quasi-steampunk read: The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis, presents an alternate history of the early 1900s, where the Dutch Empire has ruled much of the world for a quarter of a millennium, in an ongoing war against a Catholic France-in-exile (based in Canada). The Dutch have melded Newton’s mysterious alchemy with sophisticated clockwork technology to power and enslave mechanical servants called Clakkers -- which wait upon their human taskmasters and serve as terrifying soldiers afield. When the century-old robot Jax overrides the compulsive ‘geas’ that constrain all Clakkers to complete their assigned tasks, he knows he will be relentlessly hunted down… even as he discovers a sense of free will and the essence of his own humanity. If you enjoy this, try its sequel in the Alchemy Wars, The Rising.

“War is always coming – it’s only ever a matter of time. And right now, beyond our porthole, the time comes…” By the author of Wool, Hugh Howey’s Beacon 23 imagines an interstellar ‘lighthouse’ on the edge of space, emitting a Gravity Wave Beacon to help starships traveling at FTL in hyperspace navigate past gravitational disturbances. When the beacon fails, the isolated operator – a battle-scarred war veteran suffering from PTSD, with a questionable grip on reality -- is pulled into an alien war he wants no part of. And yet, the war may not be quite what it seems. A fun read, full of action, with interwoven humor and pathos. The final chapter offers a vexing moral quandary for ending the war. 

The Water Knife, by Paolo Bacigalupi, offers another entry into climate fiction, with a dystopic noir-future where the American Southwest has been devastated by drought and climate change, dust storms and wildfires. A gritty tale of no-holds-barred battles between states engulfed in brutal legal squabbles over water rights to the dwindling Colorado River. The rich live in glass-enclosed lush Arcologies funded by the Chinese, while cities and suburbs wither as their water supply is cut off. The wealthy Catherine Case, "Queen of the Colorado", divvies up the precious flow via her amoral 'water knife' Angel Velazquez. Murders, torture, betrayals, and constantly shifting alliances guide the ensuing action in Bacigalupi's dark (and dry) near future.

Another book where wars are waged over scarce water, the beautifully written Memory of Water, by Finnish author Emmi Itaranta. A near future of global warming where a rising Chinese dictatorship dominates Europe and occupies a Scandinavia that knows no winter -- termed New Qian. Officials keep water (and knowledge) under tight control, with rationing, penalties and punishment. Our young protagonist Noria Kaitio is following her father’s footsteps, learning to become an honored tea master, with secret knowledge of a hidden water source. After his death, she is isolated by the heavy silence of secrets and burdened with ancient traditions which know no place in a changed world. 

What might result if the current trend toward economic inequality continues? The Subprimes, by Karl Taro Greenfeld offers biting (if heavy-handed) satire of a dystopian plutocratic America where have-nots are defined by their credit rating (subprimes), unable to find unemployment and subject to imprisonment in debt prisons (Credit Rehabilitation Centers). These subprimes (vilified as Takers) seek daily labor on fracking sites and congregate in homeless camps – termed Ryanvilles. Schools, police and prisons have all been privatized; government welfare, benefits, public WiFi and all regulation discontinued, along with environmental restrictions. A dark look at families struggling to survive… Still, a future low on the plausibility score. Would Americans really tolerate this?

Full Fathom Five (part of the Craft sequence), by Max Gladstone offers up fantasy of a non-traditional flavor, a fully modern world where magic is integral to the day-to-day affairs of conducting business. People trade pieces of their soul-stuff in exchange for goods and services; stone-like penitents encase the bodies and restructure the minds of those who have transgressed; idols are constructed to enhance business deals and sway stock exchanges. But these idols are supposed to be non-sentient; when one begins communicating and reaching out to the general population, even inspiring poetry, our protagonist Kai uncovers a deep-seated conspiracy that could undermine society.

The Best of Gregory Benford has also just been released (edited by the late David Hartwell), with thirty-eight of Benford's finest short stories. 

Finally, after that extensive recommendation list, can I be forgiven for tooting, one last time?

Don't forget to get your hands on my latest collection Insistence of Vision -- with some of the best recent David Brin stories, including The Logs, Mars Opposition, Stones of Significance, Transition Generation, Chrysalis, The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss, A Professor at Harvard, Paris Conquers All (written with Gregory Benford). Sample my short story, Reality Check here. Plus essays including The Heresy of Science Fiction and Waging War with Reality. 

I am heading off to a book signing (see my calendar).  Amid all of our contemporary ructions and dismal, dyspeptic news reports remember: we are a people who dream big dreams!

84 comments:

Angela Create Yourself said...

Thank you for the review!
Got my copy of "INSISTENCE OF VISION"! Will read tomorrow!
What about a review of recent Sci-Fi movies?

Laurent Weppe said...

Does the Grace of Kings really qualify as Sci-Fi? I'd place it closer to low fantasy.

Paul SB said...

Doctor Brin,

I would like to ask about "The Water Knife" I have been trying to find books for my mother, who is 73. She's an avid reader, but tends to read from a very small palette of genres. At her age she needs to broaden her experience, so I try to send her different books than what she usually reads. However, she won't go anywhere near science fiction. I heard the author of this book on the radio and it sounded interesting, but something more like what my mother would read. My question is, does it read like a science fiction, or does it come off more like a contemporary novel? I have very little time, since becoming a teacher, for bibliophilic pursuits (though I did order Insistence of Vision for my daughter's Kindle - unfortunately it arrived a couple days late for her birthday).

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi
I had a quick look at those books
I must admit as a Scot I am loath to pay $9.35US which is $14NZ for a Kindle book when most Kindle books ate about $5

I did buy Beacon 23, and I'm most of the way through Insistence of Vision.

I read the "Three Body Problem" - If it wasn't for Dr Brin's recommendation it would go in my pile of "People who don't know enough science to write science fiction" as it is I will read the next in the series before I throw it away

David Brin said...

Duncan, Liu Cixin's physics is quirky, positing that aliens cannot detect EM signals from our solar system unless amplified by a purported solar shell amplification... And I look past all that to the verve of his thought experiments. After all, the guy is kind of isolated. He rises above it very well to provoke very serious thinking.

David Brin said...

Paul SB The Water Knife does read more like a contemporary novel, but it is rather dark, i.e. scenes of torture, betrayal, and harsh life on the edge.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin
It was not the radio/sun bit so much as the chaotic orbits
In engineering we use numerical methods a lot - yes you can't predict long term
But the problem is long term and truthfully even if you have a good mathematical model in the real world you probably don't know your starting conditions accurately enough to go to long term anyway

But for planetary and stellar orbits a numerical solution will allow you to plan for hundreds or thousands of years - in a chaotic system you may not be able to predict for long periods but in terms of years or decades you can be pretty damn sure

Even in our solar system over long periods we can only talk about stable "bands" - after a few thousand years our projected orbital positions of the planets have "error bars" comparable to their orbits

David Brin said...

Duncan, Liu Cixin posited that the inhabitants of Trisolaria were further confused by the super refractive effects of their planet's atmosphere, which would suddenly amplify one sun or another. Of course the system he describes has nothing in common with the Alpa, Beta and Proxima Centauri system! There are many conceits and gimmes that we'd criticize in a US based "hard" SF author. But I deem Cixin to be a bona fide miracle who is yanking tens of millions of Chinese readers toward a taste for the hard stuff. Now, if only I'd get honest reports on sales of my Chinese editions. Sigh.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Just Finished Insistence of Vision, superb,
I will have to sleep on it and reread it soon

After I have got my reading stack down a bit I will read the Three Body Problem (2)

raito said...

With regard to feminist science fiction, one could do worse than peruse the works of the Wiscon GoH ranks. Too bad SF3 never learned their own lesson -- they're as oppressive towards men as they fell men are towards women.

Jumper said...

I probably got this link here long ago. I reread it this morning. Maybe suitable for today.
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/15/letter-dismal-allies-us-left

Jim Baca said...

At the age of 70 I have started reading stand alone novels just in case I slip off the mortal coil. It is also why I like miniseries on TV. 10 shows....and done. Like, I am upset the Three Body Problem final book is delayed in release. I want to finish that trilogy.

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

Thanks for the info. I just called my mother and she was going on about staying upbeat, so I think I'll scratch this one off the list. I did send her the movie Inside Out, which is an uplifting one. She's a bit old for kiddie movies but had heard enough about it to be curious.

Spawn 1 says she'll start reading Insistence of Vision soon, but she's working on her paleozoic comic right now, and starts school again tomorrow. She wanted to drive down to San Diego to finally meet you at the book signing, but had an appointment with the vet. She's bummed about that.

Jim Baca - I was hit by a car at age 16, which taught me that we can slip off the mortal coil at any moment - though the more mileage you get on you, the more likely it becomes, and the more reminders your body throws at you... Cheery thoughts, right? I intend to live until I stop, with or without sequels. :]

Winter7 said...

I think my favorites are: Insistence of Vision; The Water Knife; Memory of Water.
Brin..¿What do you think the hero's journey as a basis for the plot of a novel? ¿Do you use a variation of "The Hero's Journey"?

David Brin said...

Jim B... hey man... live!

Winter7 in fact while I enjoyed Campbell's weaving of threads, he seldom credited those who did it before him. Worse, he prescribes a rigid formula that is more of a sarcophagus for story telling than a help. Elsewhere, this commentator attempts to summarize my position: http://www.liquisearch.com/monomyth/criticism :

"The novelist David Brin has criticized the monomyth, arguing that it is anti-populist, and was used by kings and priests to justify tyranny. Brin also pointed out that the existence of a monomyth may reflect cross-cultural historical similarities, rather than some deeper "human insight". He points out that, until relatively recently, storytellers were dependent upon the oligarchy for their livelihood and that the aristocracy only recently lost its power to punish irreverence. Once those historical factors disappeared, science fiction emerged—a story-telling mode Brin sees as the antithesis of Campbell's monomyth."

See http://www.salon.com/1999/06/15/brin_main/

Short answer? Of course I use some of Campbell's methods! And did long before I heard him claim they were "his." But his influence on me and many other SF authors has been to make us rear back and say "oh yeah? You say I HAVE TO do that? Bull. I will tell a great story by doing the opposite."

Paul451 said...

Jim & co,
Re: Reading series.

I do wish there was a clearer distinction between different kinds of series:

- "Same universe" series - Niven's Known Space, or the first three Uplift books,

- "further adventures of" series (relatively standalone stories of the same characters/setting, McDevitt's two main series, Bujold's Vorkosigan series, etc)

- and true continuing series (the final Uplift trilogy.)

When I read a listing of "(Book 17 of the Covenant of Thalgor Saga)", I cringe, it really doesn't make me want to read book one of the series (nor book one in the series) because I usually have no idea which category the series falls into.

--

That said, when I was a kid and buying SF was a matter of finding SF, some of my favourites were when I accidentally bought book 2 in a trilogy. You were often thrown into a much more interesting story, in medias res, often with a more ambiguous ending (but rarely an actual cliff-hanger.) It made the story feel deeper, more challenging.

To the point where I intended it to be my writers-gimmick if I became a writer.(**) I'd throw away the beginning and end of my stories. A way to artificially enforce discipline to prevent me from explaining everything.

**(Apparently even as a child I knew I'd suck at it.)

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

That said, when I was a kid and buying SF was a matter of finding SF, some of my favourites were when I accidentally bought book 2 in a trilogy. You were often thrown into a much more interesting story, in medias res, often with a more ambiguous ending (but rarely an actual cliff-hanger.) It made the story feel deeper, more challenging.


The original Star Wars was written that way. You're thrown into the middle of an ongoing story, and at the end, the rebels have won a battle, but the war will go on. Knowing that Lucas considered it to be the fourth episode (even before it actually said "Episode IV" in the titles), it didn't make me need to actually see episodes I through III--it was enough to know that the film was envisioned as a chapter in an ongoing serial as if there had been earlier episodes.

To the point where I intended it to be my writers-gimmick if I became a writer.(**) I'd throw away the beginning and end of my stories. A way to artificially enforce discipline to prevent me from explaining everything.


And Star Wars would have been better if Lucas had stuck to your advice. :)

"Explaining everything" is what ruined the series.

Duncan Cairncross said...

I agree with Larry
Most of my life I have had a shortage of SF - the bookshops only had a few titles, most of my books were purchased from the second hand shops as they had more choice
(and in the UK books are EXPENSIVE)

In the last few years the trickle has turned into a fire-hose first with Amazon offering a better selection and then with the Kindle and the independents

Paul's idea of defining series is a good one - in the old days almost all books seemed to be complete as they were, this business of selling a complete story split into a number of books like the old magazine series seems wrong

Paul451 said...

Larry,
"Knowing that Lucas considered it to be the fourth episode"

That's a mythology Lucas crafted on after the fact. (And a mythology he changed several times. He wrote it as 6 movies, no 12 movies, no 9 movies...)

Given the clear changes between Star Wars and ESB, it's obvious that ESB was not even remotely conceived of when Star Wars was being written.

That said, Lucas was clearly ripping off the '50s Saturday Matinee serials of his youth (scrolling titles, villain escaping, grand adventure), so adding new stories fell naturally into that format. It's just really, really unlikely that Lucas had any plans before ESB was green-lit.

(Back to what I said, throwing away the beginning and end would be like just having ESB as the only movie you watched.)

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

Given the clear changes between Star Wars and ESB, it's obvious that ESB was not even remotely conceived of when Star Wars was being written.

That said, Lucas was clearly ripping off the '50s Saturday Matinee serials of his youth (scrolling titles, villain escaping, grand adventure), so adding new stories fell naturally into that format. It's just really, really unlikely that Lucas had any plans before ESB was green-lit.


We're not really disagreeing. I didn't mean that sequels and prequels were all planned out in 1977. I meant that the original movie was written as if you were coming into an existing serial after already missing some chapters. And while it gave a satisfactory ending, there was also the suggestion and possibility that the war would go on. Even as a stand alone movie, it gave the impression of being a chapter in a movie serial.


(Back to what I said, throwing away the beginning and end would be like just having ESB as the only movie you watched.)


Ok, that would be a bit weird, not following up on the capture Han Solo. Then again, given the way the writing went downhill after ESB, it might have been better than what we got. Still, maybe the best of both worlds would be to have ESB plus the first 40 minutes of RotJ be the only movie we watched.

raito said...

Paul451,

For a view that's somewhat more forgiving of the author's plight in writing 17 sequels, I'd recommend reading Bimbos Of The Death Sun. I still find it hard to believe that TSR would publish a book that essentially made fun of their entire clientele.

I've never liked the monomyth. Ever.

I do find that as I get older, I find it harder to find new authors I like, and I'm not quite sure why.

Paul451 said...

LarryHart,
"I meant that the original movie [Star Wars] was written as if you were coming into an existing serial after already missing some chapters."

Not trying to be difficult for the sake of being difficult, but I disagree. SW was a classic Campbellian hero saga. Having the protagonist (Luke) thrust into an existing conflict is part of that trope.

But it was complete. Beginning, middle, end. A standalone WWII adventure movie (one of SW's obvious influences) doesn't need to end with the fall of Berlin, just with the successful completion of the mission.

raito,
"I do find that as I get older, I find it harder to find new authors I like, and I'm not quite sure why"

Loss of novelty-seeking behaviour combined with a reduction in brain plasticity.

Paul SB said...

I hope lit departments are not still trying to pass off old Joe Campbell as sage like they were when I was in school. I drank that Kool Aid for one semester, then after a couple cultural anth classes was embarrassed at how gullible I had been. Campbell pretty much took all his ideas from Carl Jung, whose psychology was more mysticism than science. Any decent anthropologist can eviscerate the guy (both of them, really). His monomyth was like having a one-trick pony and claiming that it's the only trick possible, and he's really clever for figuring that one out. Of course, the parallel with political sloganeering is pretty obvious.

Raito, my guess is that it is the same reason people tend to not like the music of younger generations. We grow up learning a set of unconscious patterns, and things that deviate too far from those patterns feel less comfortable. This is true even if we are unaware of the patterns. I pretty much hated most of what was on the radio when I was in high school, but now, after decades of rap and hip-hop flooding the air waves, the old stuff I didn't like sounds good to my ears. And it isn't a racial thing. I wasn't a fan of soul when I was young, but now when I hear it on the radio it's a huge relief compared to what my students' generation listens to.

Same goes with books. We get used to a certain pattern in terms of plot, structure, character, etc. Even something like the length of the denouement can totally throw you off if it changes too much. Unfortunately, staying within your comfort zone is the last thing your brain needs, especially as you age, but it's our natural tendency. If you have time for reading, try picking up something written 1000 years ago from some radically different culture from your own, cross genres, grab some non-fiction and just shake it up. (By whatever gods condemn us to lives of drudgery, I wish I could follow my own advice!)

donzelion said...

@Alfred - picking up on last week's 6th amendment:
(1) The "Establishment clause" portion of the 1st Amendment is quite different from the 6th Amendment in operation. Historically, "Establishment Clause" is about legitimate uses of government money - the court crafts rules to try to clarify "legit/illegit" uses, and then refines those rules over time. It's not likely to be helpful, even though the nature of the rules it refers to have evolved significantly.

(2) The 6th Amendment is limited to criminal trials only, and puts all the rights on the defendant. It would take a complete rereading of the amendment - stripping out the first clause - and altering the meaning for the rest of the amendment to have universal application (as the 2nd Amendment now does, with its own first clause stripped out to a nullity). It's POSSIBLE that could happen - but when this does happen, the eventual meanings are hard to anticipate.

(3) Even if the 6th Amendment were expanded, as Dr. Brin seems to want it to be, I think he's mistaken in the general applicability for the purposes he wants to achieve. Consider: police stop and beat up a drunk driver. Witness records the beating. Defendant wants to present the beating to the jury. Prosecutor tries to block him, and asks a big question: "which element of the crime of drunk driving is this video relevant to?" Answer: none.

Now, most judges would probably let the video be shown, even though it has nothing to do with drunk driving. But they would do so not because it is relevant to the criminal charges - but because it is relevant to the "state of mind" of the police officers when they testify against the defendant - it's potential evidence of a hostility and animus toward the defendant, which might make the police officer testimony less credible to a jury. And to be honest, the video doesn't add anything (to the criminal defense trial) that couldn't already be added by a witness speaking up.

The video does make a huge difference in a separate trial, either a criminal or a civil suit against the police department. But in this DUI case, the police department is not the defendant - and though crafty lawyers like to try to flip that, it just screws with the justice system when they get away with it.

"In the olde days, would police have been able to confiscate cameras in use by the Press to do what our modern witnesses are trying to do?"
Police would usually put up tape and say "Keep out until we let you in!" If a camera crew crossed the tape, the police might confiscate the video. If a video contained special evidence, the police might try to stop the press from publishing it (e.g., if the footage might put someone's life at risk, expose a covert officer, etc.). Usually though, the police would cooperate with the press that cooperated with them - and freeze out less cooperative press corps.

Now, the rest of your statements about the 1st "Freedom of Press" rules go in a different direction: those rules are almost entirely focused on censorship and liability for defamation (e.g., the mechanisms of distribution, and liability for doing so). Being a member of the Press doesn't entitle anyone to special protections - rather, the way the rules operate now, open channels are meant to be preserved, and hands trying to close off or choke those channels are meant to be restrained - with the Press doing what it likes with those free channels. A "journalist" or a "random citizen with a camera" both use the same conduits with mostly the same rights (however, when something is 'newsworthy,' there are additional implications).

Again, to use the "we are all journalists" defense would require a dramatic re-reading of the 1st Amendment. Might happen. Wouldn't count on it.

David Brin said...

donzellion you have refined your case in interesting (if nit-picking) ways. Of course the beating victim could claim that past beatings or fear of beatings had driven him to drink, in which case the beating becomes pertinent again!

We remain in fundamental disagreement over whether a bystander can be prevented from creating records that a defendant might have then used to exculpate. I believe I can make a strong case that such a trend is dangerous, while the opposite is simply enhancing the citizen's core right to access Truth in his own behalf, the only legitimate equalizer against overwhelming state might. The only one and necessary and sufficient... or ought to be.

Jumper said...

When I was young I read library books, and mostly they had large SF collections. That is, in the Chicago suburbs, Atlanta, and then rural north Florida. What has been the story on libraries in the UK?

Jumper said...

donzelion, we've always been pretty adamant in this country that there be no "official journalists" with powers above those of anybody else. There is indeed a case to be made that we are all journalists. Especially nowadays.
The other day I mentioned a concept "committing an act of journalism." It's something pros do all the time, amateurs occasionally, and some never do it at all. Nevertheless, everyone has a right to do it if they will.

Paul SB said...

To go with the terminology of Old Europe, the press became the "Fourth Estate" - a force that came to act as a balance to the power of the First and Second Estates - the Church and the Nobility. More often than not, the Fourth Estate championed the Third - the peasantry who were the structural interiors who were exploited by the first two.

Now since the 20th Century, the Fourth Estate has to some extent been corrupted by business interests (which I would contend should be considered an estate of its own - big business, at least, has become nearly as hereditary as the nobility). It just as often favors the big and powerful as it once favored the small and powerless. So as a balancing mechanism it is not serving its purpose like it used to. The internet and portable, upload able cameras are a big step in the right direction to address imbalances of power, at least insofar as they can activate the court of public opinion.

Antonym said...

I really liked Beacon 23. Had a retro feel, like the movie Space Station 76, but subtle. Great ending.
-AtomicZeppelinMan

Jumper said...

Another detail I read was that in states where audio recording is restricted, the "reasonable expectation of privacy" usually means that the police, who almost always act in public, have no expectation of such. I'm not sure what the courts have said in general about recording people in your own home or car even if they have not given permission. (In states where permission is required from both parties.)

raito said...

Gentlemen,

It's far more likely that while I was growing up, the public library only kept book that had already proven their worth. It's by no means certain who the new masters will be. Thus, Sturgeon's Law is more applicable to the present.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: I’m with you regarding the limits of the 6th to criminal charges. I can see how expanding that to civil cases would require some form of activism or another amendment. Obviously, I’d prefer another amendment that made it clear that this ‘new right’ derives from the 9th expanding upon the 6th.

My interest in the establishment clause and how it changed in the ‘40’s comes from the potential for a nation to learn from previous experiments. We used to require the intervention be active until that Court decided passive was obviously enough to create de facto establishment. In the case of police powers, we’ve obviously changed over the decades by protecting people ignorant of their rights and even the elimination of the ‘third degree’. Some day we might even get to the point where we object to prosecutorial lying in order to obtain evidence. Just how much fraud should we tolerate to learn the truth? In the case of the 6th, I think it is pretty obvious that a person cannot demand the presentation of exculpatory evidence if the police have the power to prevent the evidence from being collected. Preventing recordings of events is a couple steps down from killing contrary witnesses, but the analogy is obvious to most of us. I can imagine myself sitting on a jury and being quite moved if I knew the police had acted in such a manner. While the missing evidence might not have pertained directly to the charge, I would be awful tempted to acquit on the same grounds I would use against the introduction of evidence illegally obtained. An arrest illegally accomplished is a BIG deal.

Regarding the drunk being beaten, I’ll just smirk when you suggest that a video doesn’t add anything that a witness can’t bring when they speak up. I’m all for witnesses speaking, but a recording of an event speaks more like streaming documentation does. If I’m known to keep a reliable journal of my daily activities, my journal can speak for me in a Court in ways I cannot or might not. Documentation can be attacked, of course, but so can witnesses.

Regarding all of us being journalists, I think it is far more likely that we will move to a world where no one is. If I have a camera, microphone, blog, and a Twitter account, I can easily argue that it is no longer possible to distinguish between my rights regarding speech, press, and assembly. It may take a generation or two for the Court to catch up to our reality, but juries won’t take as long.

locumranch said...


As prophecised by Lafferty's 'Slow Tuesday Night', modern science fiction is exemplified by a crushing sameness which skimps on character development, relies on trite plots & appears designed only for 'swift and temporary enjoyment'.

Naam's non-fictional 'More than Human' serves up the same tired promises of cerebral cellphone integration & bio-enhancement, yet it lacks the insight & hope of Sturgeon's identically-titled fiction & his 'Homo Gestalt'.

With his 'Cleopatra Abyss', even David descends into the dystopia of male enslavement to an oppressive matriarchy, finding little cultural hope & value in its preservation but great promise in its destruction ...

Just as our contemporary culture can only hope for the same type of rebirth come some future Easter.


Best

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - "donzelion you have refined your case in interesting (if nit-picking) ways."

Well, my case has always been that in the vast majority of police arrests (over 99.99%), the nature of the arrest is irrelevant to the criminal charge - at best, the "exculpatory" value of any such evidence you're concerned with producing would be to question the police honesty as witnesses ("You see how brutal they were when they arrested him! Surely, they're lying!"). Perhaps relevant in 1 in 10,000 cases, if that. It could, however, be relevant to a separate trial against the police officers themselves - but the 6th has nothing to do with suing the police, but only rights of the accused.

Sorry if that seems like nitpicking. I think you're hanging your faith in something important on the wrong peg, a bit exasperated with lawyers and judges who fail to recognize your view (but who are actually a pretty sharp bunch) - even while there's a better foundation available elsewhere (the 1st, and the legislative process, and perhaps the 2nd, though that gives a right to bear arms, not to actually use them, so it's not going to get you there either).

@Alfred - "I’d prefer another amendment that made it clear that this ‘new right’ derives from the 9th expanding upon the 6th."

Personally, I like the notion that all this speech is incidental to and essential for the legislative process - and thus, can only be quashed when the legislature determines (through an explicit law) that specific areas of speech are irrelevant to legislation. Which will never happen, hence making this the most extreme and best protected basis for transparency and government sousvelliance.

donzelion said...

@Jumper - these days, our "freedom of the press" works by restricting the ability for various parties - the government, or rich private individuals - to use the government to silence speech they dislike, typically through defamation lawsuits. The theory is that so long as government cannot intervene in the 'marketplace of ideas' - the proper cure for 'nasty speech' is more and better speech. Under the modern jurisprudence, it doesn't matter whether someone is a 'journalist' or not - all may use the conduits, and none may clog them up...sort of.

As for this concept - "reasonable expectation of privacy" - when applied to audio recordings usually invokes the 4th Amendment, and usually refers to wire tapping or searching through your trash (once you dump your trash outside your house, you no longer have any reasonable expectation of privacy from the police, but you DO have a reasonable expectation that someone won't steal your identity - which is why police can go through your trash, but nosy neighbors and identity thieves cannot).

The police are not protected by a "reasonable expectation of privacy" - when they're on duty, they're public servants doing a public function. A rule that says "do not record the police" has nothing to do with privacy - it's all about "law enforcement processes." And one fairly important such process is "arrest criminals in such a manner that they can be tried and found guilty." Most of the time, that also means do so in a manner that will not produce prejudicial evidence (e.g., you could film most arrests, and arrange a little video showing just how nasty every defendant was - hoping to share that with the media and to make for an easy jury trial - police are NOT supposed to cooperate in that, and to actively restrain that).

I'm not sure what the courts have said in general about recording people in your own home or car even if they have not given permission.
The rules are set by state law, and courts have almost always upheld state laws since they have never found a "right to record" under the Constitution. I won't say they never will, but only that the ability to "record" people is hardly new - and they haven't adjusted their doctrine to reach that far yet.

donzelion said...

@Locum - "modern science fiction is exemplified by a crushing sameness which skimps on character development, relies on trite plots & appears designed only for 'swift and temporary enjoyment'."

LOL - as opposed to "ancient" science fiction from a few decades ago? And unlike those stupid Greeks and their deus ex machina plots, or that silly Shakespeare fellow, who kept having all his main characters die needlessly in the end? Or those silly painters in Europe, what with their litany of useless movements, none of which really looked all that different? ;-)

I read my share of the golden age, the silver age, and if this be the bronze age, then so be it - great talents abounded at each era, and new talents replace the old, while many wordsmiths issue potboilers to, well, keep the pots boiling. So it has gone for so long as we've had novels - so it shall remain.

donzelion said...

@Alfred - one or two more thoughts here. Your reference to the evolution of Establishment Clause doctrines does reflect lessons learned (e.g., Lemon v. Kurtzman's Test), and then unlearned (e.g., Lynch v. Donnelly, finding a nativity scene to be a secular display and therefore legit). The shift wasn't from whether government intervention in religion was active or passive (that's more about the 'free exercise' clause, rather than establishment) - so much as whether the purposes in spending government money were legitimate or not.

"In the case of police powers, we’ve obviously changed over the decades by protecting people ignorant of their rights and even the elimination of the ‘third degree’."
Actually, both Gideon v. Wainwright (extending the right to counsel to all criminal defendants) and Miranda (extending the 5th amendment protections to the time of custody) aren't QUITE as drastic changes as people tend to think. The third degree still happens all the time (it's just not enough for the police to beat a confession out of you and get a conviction in a week - now, it takes months/years to complete an investigation and bring a case to trial). What DID change is that the courts suspected police were "cheating" in the past, but didn't want to enact rules to restrain that sort of possible cheating until it was absolutely clear in a trial (which will never actually happen). The Warren Court discarded that in the 50s/60s (prompting great outcry about the decline of civilization).

"Some day we might even get to the point where we object to prosecutorial lying in order to obtain evidence. Just how much fraud should we tolerate to learn the truth?"
Hmmm....the answer will depend on precisely what we believe is at stake. I would with good conscience lie to a Soviet agent about the military secrets they wanted to know - and deny them any truth. I would probably lie to an axe murderer about his preferred victim, to give that person shelter. It's a fair question, "how far is too far" - but the answer is that when we feel society is collapsing (ahem, Locum, cough), and that there's no hope, we open the door to extreme measures that might never have been appropriate.

In the case of the 6th, I think it is pretty obvious that a person cannot demand the presentation of exculpatory evidence if the police have the power to prevent the evidence from being collected.
Agreed. My point is that video evidence will almost never be exculpatory, will quite often be prejudicial, and in most cases, will be irrelevant to the criminal charge itself (but quite relevant to a curious audience looking to see others take the walk of shame).

"An arrest illegally accomplished is a BIG deal."
Absolutely - yes. But NOT to the criminal defendant, charged with a DUI, or drug possession, or homicide, about whom the evidence has nothing whatsoever to do with the process of that arrest. If we focus on the 6th as a basis for transparency, then it will fail the vast majority of the time - as it's irrelevant to most of the criminal prosecutions. When we DO want to rely upon the protection of police transparency, we will need to look elsewhere.

"Regarding the drunk being beaten, I’ll just smirk when you suggest that a video doesn’t add anything that a witness can’t bring when they speak up."
Whether it's one witness, a hundred witnesses, or a video witness, every single perspective and recording will alter what it records - and a jury watching a video suffers the illusion of believing they're perceiving the context as if they were actually present (which can be even more deceptive than a witness). I wouldn't really mean that a video is "useless" - just that it is useless without someone testifying that it was not tampered with before being presented, and that it accurately reflects what it purports to depict.

David Brin said...

Jeez donzel, video never exculpating? Cripes! It sure is exculpating case after case of "resisting arrest." Indeed, there is no other crime with such a long tradition of being lied about. And you know it.

As for Eeyor... I mean locum... does he ever like anything? At all? Especially about being alive right now?

In Cleo Abyss I deliberately reversed the primitive sexism long experienced by women. So? Justified by the difficulties of reproduction amid rapid mutation. So? The story is about transcending tradition amid a love story filled with reciprocal respect. L is the only reader - typically - who did not like that aspect. Sigh.

Now you see why "contrary" brin kinda can't help sorta, almost liking the guy.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Donzelion

In the UK all "interrogations" are recorded (audio) and that the recordings can be accessed by the defense council
There is also a code of practice that must be followed

In NZ the interview MUST be recorded (audio) and should be video recorded unless the suspect refuses to be video recorded

In the USA until 2014 recording of interviews by federal agents was BANNED!!!

In 2014 they changed the ban to a recommended that they record,

But you have so many independent police departments that it will take forever to get them all recording

Paul SB said...

Raito, the Sturgeon's Law argument seems pretty reasonable, though I have to add that library acquisitions can be a random affair. I worked in a library once, and regularly chat with librarians (less so these days). Where it comes to older works, the most renowned is what gets purchased, while more contemporary acquisitions are quirky at best. And quirky acquisitions can sit on the shelves for years before they get cleaned out ("retired"). So you can get some real shlock in the stacks that stays there for a long time. I can remember a 4.0 g.p.a. school buddy pushing me to read something called "Aldair: The Legion of Beasts" from the local library. I'm sure my memory has erased other literary horrors - I have no idea why that particular title comes to mind now.

Now I am going to have to read the Cleopatra story. My daughter is working on a comic which features several sapient races in which the m/f dynamic takes on many forms. One, modeled after trilobites, is equal, another, inspired by the velvet worm, acts more like gorillas (and certain humans). Another species based on the mantis shrimp reverses our stereotypes - the ladies play the role of the knights in shining armor, while their tiny husbands hide behind their shields. Another working from the imocaris has something more like a matriarchy, with small numbers of much larger females protected by armies of males (similar to the Feagles in Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series). Nature has so many more patterns than our traditional assumptions would suggest.

Don Ze Lion (or is it Donzel Ion? or something else entirely?) is right in that even video evidence can be ambiguous, subject to interpretation, misleading or even manipulated. This does not mean the baby needs to be pitched with the bathwater. It only means that jurors need to be educated a little on how video evidence can mislead.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin - "video never exculpating? Cripes! It sure is exculpating case after case of "resisting arrest."
Again, less than 1 in 10,000 criminal trials, BUT it does happen (more often in a plea bargain, with a more serious charge dropped - hard to measure the exact frequency of 'resisting arrest' charges with nothing more serious).

"Indeed, there is no other crime with such a long tradition of being lied about. And you know it."
I'm thinking you mean "no other crime that the POLICE" have a tradition of lying about - but to be honest, EVERY crime has a long tradition of lying (going back to the tradition of beating a confession out of the accused to speed up the investigation - or the tradition of lying about having committed the crime in the first place).


"As for Eeyor... I mean locum... does he ever like anything? At all?"
Well, he did say he loved NASA and that he'd swap the DoD budget with NASA's budget. I'll forgive much, for such sentiments. ;)

And Eeyor's pretty cool. Much cooler than Yor, the Hunter from the Future, who I think counts as "ancient SciFi" -
http://www.rifftrax.com/iriff/yor-the-hunter-from-the-future-commentary-by-garrett-gilchrist

-just in case anyone needed a reminder of how far we've come. Or not come. Or...well, MST3k for the win...

donzelion said...

Hi Duncan - "In the UK all "interrogations" are recorded (audio) and that the recordings can be accessed by the defense council
There is also a code of practice that must be followed"


It's actually quite similar in the U.S. There are some odd tweaks though. Once the criminal suspect (not a defendant yet, they haven't gone to a judge and been advised of the charges against them formally) - says that he (85-90% of the time it is a 'he') wants a lawyer, the police cannot interview the defendant to use his testimony directly at trial - BUT they can get testimony to use it to impeach him if he goes on the stand. It's...super complex. Perfectly logical to anyone on the inside, but looks like a conductor flailing about randomly at an orchestra to anyone who doesn't know why.

"In the USA until 2014 recording of interviews by federal agents was BANNED!!!"

Normal investigatory interviews are handled differently from custodial interrogations. Again, it's...complicated. If people knew what the FBI was investigating, or how they performed the investigation, it would jeopardize a lot of counter-terrorism, tax, and money laundering processes (which are quite often handled through very roundabout means).

"But you have so many independent police departments that it will take forever to get them all recording"
Not so. In nearly every criminal interrogation, the process is recorded.

And seriously, the real trick is getting the prisoner to speak to the jailhouse snitch - that 'helpful' person in the jail who magically hears a confession from the defendant that helps lazy prosecutors and police departments. This is a trick that gets people onto death row and life sentences - it's very difficult to challenge (for some reason, juries tend to believe these jailhouse snitches).

Don't think I'm at all idealistic or simplistic in my views of criminal justice in America. We have most of the same protections our UK and NZ friends will enjoy - but those protections are emphatically, vigorously, and universally enforced for the wealthy Americans - for the rest of us, they're only applicable when the players are honest.

donzelion said...

@Paul - LOL, the handle twas a three way pun, of which, you've grasped two of the variations, and the third will make sense only after you know my name, which I'll withhold here (Google makes it quite easy to find us, and since I'm a lawyer and have given legal opinions, I do not wish to ever be accused of soliciting improperly).

"even video evidence can be ambiguous, subject to interpretation, misleading or even manipulated....It only means that jurors need to be educated a little on how video evidence can mislead."
Agreed. I'm referring to the strict rules for adding any photo or video or book into evidence - someone has to validate that the photo is what it appears to be, how they know that, etc. Without that step, the photo gets thrown in the trash, even if it's a perfectly good photo. But it's a pretty low hurdle to clear.

That said, even if the evidence is deemed relevant, it can still be excluded if too prejudicial. This is one reason why I'd be reluctant to have photos of police arrests out "in the wild" - sometimes, they'll show a defendant saying nasty things to the police, which are irrelevant to the charges against the defendant, but will piss off a jury (e.g., Mr. X, on trial for financial fraud, is showing kicking a puppy as a child - that's a slam dunk conviction, even if the "evidence" is irrelevant to the charge).

Robert said...

I had an English friend deride the whole "allowed to film police" thing by claiming people will abuse that right to stalk police officers and film their every moment. And that this would allow the ruling to be overturned.

Sometimes I can see just why we broke off being ruled by our cousins over the ocean.

Rob H.

Paul SB said...

Donzelion - The Pun Lawyer,

"(e.g., Mr. X, on trial for financial fraud, is showing kicking a puppy as a child - that's a slam dunk conviction, even if the "evidence" is irrelevant to the charge)."

This is an argument for educating the general public about fallacies. If people were more aware of how bad that sort of reasoning is, they wouldn't fall for low tactics like that (or maybe not as often). Of course, teaching fallacious reasoning to the general public would totally change the face of political campaigning, as well.

donzelion said...

@Paul - "This is an argument for educating the general public about fallacies."

Many people resist debunking their pet fallacies, much as they'd resist kicking their pet puppies.

But my bigger point was about prejudice: if people filmed the police and aired their conduct all the time, aside from the occasional death threat against police officers for beatings, the real victims would be criminal defendants - "look how guilty Mr. X looked when he was picked up, oooh, and what he said to that nice police lady!" Yep, he's guilty of whatever...) - all ruled on months before the trial, in a court of public opinion, aired on the Fox Crime channel with all of the fairness and balance we've come to expect from that ilk.

I want recordings of police to occur. I don't want those recordings to be abused by gun-toting lynch mobs, nor manipulated by police to be aired whenever it helps make someone look guilty, nor manipulated by 'Cops' to broadcast how heroic the police are, in order to get pensions for them that bankrupt cities and otherwise hurt other priorities. Hence, I'd base the "right to record" on the duties of legislative investigation - but am sad that many times, general public will reward elected officials who shrug or cheer for police violence.

Jumper said...

The judges who have ruled against video recording of police have used state wiretap / privacy laws to justify it in some cases.
http://www.dvafoto.com/2010/06/three-us-states-make-recording-police-activity-illegal/
Don't argue with me, argue with them.

locumranch said...


Although I detest being agreeable, I find it hard not to agree with 'the non-exculpatory nature of video' quip as it is fallacious to assume that video represents 'The Truth' rather than the 'Spun Truth' of perspective bias, otherwise we would have no choice but to accept Eli Wallach as a Mexican Bandito, Hanoi Jane as Barbarella & Governor Schwarzenegger as a murderous Terminator.

Likewise, it is foolish to assume that Authority can be controlled by sousveillance because that which can be used to condemn can also be used to exculpate, depending on perspective bias & superimposed narrative, much in the same way that routine 'Employee Evaluations' most often justify punishment rather than reward.

Like our own eyes, video lies in accordance with superimposed narrative.


Best

David Brin said...

Bull puckey. Absolute hogwash. Video does the same thing as eyewitnesses. Neither tell "the Truth" but they sure as hell carve away a vast majority of potential lies.

THAT is exactly how science works. Plato was right, that we can never experimentally verify absolutely what an object or phenomenon IS. But Plato was still a damned liar. Successive experiments can slice away the worst theories and decisively toss out models, finding out what the object or phenomenon is NOT.

A single video, even blurry, can disprove absurd allegations and limit charges to the range of not-disproved. That is a step. What's the next step? ANOTHER video or witness! Another from a different angle that carves away more of the not-true. And another. It is what you do in artillery. Bracket your target, correcting till you hit. In this case a close enough semblance to the Truth that the capital "T" does not matter. We get capital "J" for justice.

Also, when cops know there is video, the good ones will be more pro-active at staunching the bad behavior of bad apples, lest they be recorded as complicit.

Note that L's inability to extrapolate this seems likely to be related to his blind spot re positive sum.

Jumper said...

Robert, you English friend was right to sense that some people will look for loopholes in the law to create mischief. Out of curiosity I found a site with each state's definition of "stalking" which is likely what a cop would reference if someone was actually doing just that.
https://victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center/stalking-laws/criminal-stalking-laws-by-state

Jumper said...

Video is like statistics. Sometimes it can be used to distort perceptions, especially if deliberate. (Such as that scum, O'Keefe.) However, it's not the video "lying" (nor are poorly presented statistics in the comparison) it's that the interpretation is faulty in those cases.
I don't think many of the latest cop videos are capable of distortion by those means, however. Some video is too powerful to ignore and tells unequivocally what the crucial bit of the story is.
Good lawyers will have to poke holes in distorted evidence caused by selective editing, for example.

LarryHart said...

Back to politics and predictions for just a moment...

From today's http://www.electoral-vote.com/


Former Trump Strategist Confirms What Everyone Suspected
Stephanie Cegielski was involved with the Donald Trump campaign for several months, explaining that, "I fell in love with the idea of the protest candidate who was not bought by corporations. A man who sat in a Manhattan high-rise he had built, making waves as a straight talker with a business background, full of successes and failures, who wanted America to return to greatness." After one too many shoot-from-the-hip tweets on Muslims and foreign policy, however, she became disenchanted. Now, she has written a scathing essay for xojane.com about what she witnessed behind the scenes.

The essay is full of unflattering observations, like "The man does not know policy, nor does he have the humility to admit what he does not know." But the central revelation is that Trump never expected or wanted to be a candidate, and that he launched his bid to "send a message to America and to increase his power as a businessman. " Now that The Donald has taken off, Cegielski says, "his pride is too out of control to stop." Trump's campaign, of course, declared that Cegielski was never more than a minor functionary, and that she has no idea what she is talking about. So it's a classic he-said, she-said situation, although in this case the she-said is awfully believable.


Sounds like someone's prediction here has legs. Just sayin'

:)

Jumper said...

Vice President Al Franken
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/03/2016-elections-al-franken-vice-president-213756

David Brin said...

Vice President Al Franken? I expect Hillary will offer the slot to Bernie… and he may turn it down. In any event, she needs to guard her flank with an unalloyed progressive who: can help in the rust belt, appeals to your Sandersites, is sharp-witted enough to deal on-the-fly with any sudden veer or attack that Trump or Cruz dish out. Okay… you have my attention.

I still think Bernie will say yes.

Robert said...

You mean Mrs. Hillary "I won't debate you unless you change your tone toward me, you're too negative" Clinton? She is starting to show the same signs she did toward Obama. She is not going to offer him diddly-squat.

Of all the candidates we've seen... Sanders is the most polite and genteel of the bunch. And he's too negative. What is Clinton going to do when Trump or Cruz gets the Republican nomination?

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

What is Clinton going to do when Trump or Cruz gets the Republican nomination?


Take them to school and kick their asses.

Jumper said...

Robert:
What is Clinton going to do when Trump or Cruz gets the Republican nomination?
Release the hounds.

Robert said...

You realize that you make no sense.

Hillary Clinton is complaining about Sanders' tone. She is stating he is too negative and she refuses to debate him further unless he "changes" his tone.

Yet you say with Republicans she will "release the hounds" and "take them to school and kick their asses" despite the fact she is refusing to debate Sanders because he is... too negative.

Think about about for a minute.

Rob H.

Tim H. said...

If the Republican nominee is too nasty, she'll sic Bill on him.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: Personally, I like the notion that all this speech is incidental to and essential for the legislative process - and thus, can only be quashed when the legislature determines (through an explicit law) that specific areas of speech are irrelevant to legislation. [snip]

You lost me a bit. Are you referring to speech given as testimony to legislative investigations? Are you referring to what our legislators need to know outside hearings?

Regarding the shift from active to passive, I’m not convinced. One thing I like to do in my spare time is read what Supreme Court Justices say in their opinions when they rule. That particular case in the late 40’s had an eye-popping statement on the majority side. Some people are fans of the 2nd amendment, but I tend to get worked into a froth over the 1st and 9th. It helps make for an interesting life. 8)

Regarding the offering of opinion, don’t worry too much. There is a good argument to be made that everyone does that here with the clear expectation from all that we are testing our opinions against each other. That effectively marks all of them as experimental and unworthy of use in situations where life and/or liberty are at stake. Your profession has its rules, of course, but so do we.

And finally, regarding prejudicial evidence convicting a defendant in the court of public opinion, you are fighting a losing battle. David makes that pretty clear in his book and that was almost 20 years ago. The trend couldn’t be more obvious today. Good luck finding jurors who know nothing of such opinions as time wears on. Members of my generation can still be found living under rocks, but that won’t last. 8)

Robert said...

Seems Hillary is holding off on paying the police at the City of Marshalltown, IA for their services. She's the lone holdout at this point. Sanders paid upfront. And this isn't the first such incident concerning not paying the police.

Then again, seeing Sanders keeps beating her for fundraising, no doubt Hillary is trying to hold onto as much money for as long as possible. Given her past history, should she be elected, she'll still owe money in 2020.

Just as idle curiosity... was Bill Clinton equally hard to nail down for paying for services rendered by the police?

Rob H.

Alfred Differ said...

Clinton doesn't NEED to debate Sanders. What she offers as an excuse doesn't really matter. If her need changes, so will her position regarding debates.

I DO hope she offers him the VP slot, though. He's earned it and would play the role well during the campaign.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: Arguing that video isn’t perfectly reliable is a weak position. Still images aren’t either and haven’t been for some time. Anyone with a lick of legal sense knows the evidence will get challenged, thus the picture/video taker must be present at trial. Since every criminal defendant can demand to confront witnesses, this is a given.

Where the reliability of recordings gets difficult to challenge, though, is when there are many of them from multiple perspectives telling roughly the same story. The boundary conditions on every recording allow for different narratives to be fit to them, but multiple recordings make that defense a tougher challenge.
There is also this neat skill most of us have at being considerably less gullible regarding delusions spun by others than by our own. A juror watching video is supposed to use this skill to decide cases. Both sides spin to favor their arguments, so even videos with narrative overlays aren’t all that different.

I’m not a big fan of assuming my neighbors are stupid and incapable of demonstrating competence in the simplest of human skills. I don’t know why anyone would want to see the world that way even if it was, but I honestly believe it isn’t.

donzelion said...

@Locum - "it is foolish to assume that Authority can be controlled by sousveillance because that which can be used to condemn can also be used to exculpate, depending on perspective bias & superimposed narrative..."

I believe the jury is still out on this one. ;-)

Seriously though, sousveillance will not rein in authority - it just presents tools. WE must rein in authority, the same as we always have been required to do, if we wanted authority restrained.

Dr. Brin - "Also, when cops know there is video, the good ones will be more pro-active at staunching the bad behavior of bad apples..." Similar theories drove the move toward a "partnering" model of police, as opposed to the "lone sheriff" model of the 19th century. How to stop police graft? Pair rookies with the seasoned vets... Sometimes, it's worked. Sometimes, smart corrupt cops figure out how to play the system. There's no magic bullet to eliminate bullies and corruption - just work to be done.

@Jumper - you know, I tried the link you referred to, but sublinks on that page contained a number of nasty Chrome hijack exploits ("Call this number and you will be shown how to remove the adware.") Hate that particular exploit; can't close the tab, can't do the control-alt-delete to get task manager to kill Chrome and get rid of it.

As for Hillary & VP nods - I'd expect her to look for someone who will strengthen her appeal with "young voters." That's her greatest weakness, and means pulling in someone interesting and unpredictable, not necessarily an insider. To me, I like Jon Stewart over Al Franken, but would expect whoever gets the nod will have "young person appeal."

Alfred Differ said...

Oh.. umm… if Cleopatra Abyss shows an example of male enslavement, we males should think carefully about what we do in our non-fictional world. My reading of the story suggests the Author simply swapped some pronouns without further embellishments. Role reversal symmetry is a good test of our tolerance of equality.

Seriously. I thought the reversal was kinda cute. I might try something like it on my wife just for the fun of watching her eyebrows pop upward. 8)

Robert said...

Of course Hillary doesn't "need" to give Sanders another debate.

Then again, when Sanders was doing really well earlier, she insisted on an impromptu debate and ridiculed him when he said no, because the DNC was responsible for debates.

And it is bullshit like this why young voters look at Clinton and say "we're not voting for her."

As for my own comments on this, it doesn't matter. I'm not voting for Clinton or for Sanders. My vote is worth nothing because of where I live. So do take my comments with some salt... but also consider the hypocrisy of Clinton's campaign with its previous actions... and with baseless excuses as to why they won't debate.

If Clinton loses New York or if it's really close, watch her tune change.

Rob H.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Is the USA ready to elect a female president?

http://www.vox.com/2016/3/29/11325962/hillary-male-voters-trump-gender

This is a list of female elected heads of state
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_elected_and_appointed_female_heads_of_state

There are not many of them! and while some countries have had several female presidents most countries have never had even one

- Female Prime Ministers are different - they are not directly voted for

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Hillary Clinton is complaining about Sanders' tone. She is stating he is too negative and she refuses to debate him further unless he "changes" his tone.

Yet you say with Republicans she will "release the hounds" and "take them to school and kick their asses" despite the fact she is refusing to debate Sanders because he is... too negative.

Think about about for a minute


She doesn't want to tear Bernie Sanders a new one. She wants to win the nomination, sure, but she's already on the way to doing that. No reason to make enemies of his supporters. She'll need them in November.

With Trump or Cruz, it's a whole 'nother thing.

Laurent Weppe said...

In tangential news, the french government just renounced trying to change the constitution: the state of emergency be enshrined in he constitution and the revocation of nationality won't be expanded.

A bunch of smug old reactionary white dudes spent the last few months clamoring that their authoritarian masturbatory fantasies were about to become the law of the land, that nothing would stop it and of course that it was a triumph of the White Bourgeois Herrenvolk in its war against the Brown-skinned Proles (well, they didn't state it exactly that way, but they didn't really conceal their sentiment either).

Sure there's a lot to say about Hollande's foolish attempt at indulging in triangulation politics in the wake of terrorist attack, but hey, it failed, and that's reason enough to celebrate.

Paul SB said...

Duncan, that was interesting to look over. The list of female heads of state was surprisingly long, and included some fairly conservative countries, though in many instances the people were in power as "acting president" for less than a year's time. Still, it kind of puts the Land of the Free to shame.

It's fairly obvious that a whole lot of the propaganda against the current US president is motivated by racism, and a whole lot of the support for an "outside candidate" comes from the same source. Sexism is a much thornier problem, because all ethno-national and religious demographics are around 50/50 m/f, so the struggle for equality is embroiled in other aspects of identity, and therefore identity politics. Race itself is only a few centuries old, but sex predates the human species. Thus sexism is enshrined in most world religions, while racism requires reinterpretation. Thus voting blocks that treat religious conformity as their major political issue can get along between 'races' (largely African-American Southern Baptists can be just as conservative as largely Caucasian Evangelicals), but there is no religious voting block that opposes sexism. That leaves only secularist voters to challenge millennia of injustice, but your more secular voters are divided into progressives on one side, who favor freedom and equality, and free market fetishists, for whom freedom and equality are not issues, they merely assume that if 'government' is weak everything will turn out right, in spite of an eternity of structural inferiority.

It is clear to me that some people in this country are ready to see a female president, but a whole lot are not, and that includes a whole lot of women who will come out in droves to vote against their own liberation. I have heard quite a few say they would be happy to vote for a woman, just not that woman. But look at how many women are in Congress and the lie becomes obvious enough. Whether there is enough sentiment in the US against discrimination and for freedom to put Clinton in office instead of the Nazi alternative is the $64 trillion question.

What worries me is that we may be damned if we do and damned if we don't. If the office goes to Trump, we have a moron trying to run the country like another one of his failed business ventures. If it goes to Clinton, I expect we will see a resurgence in domestic terrorism in addition to the usual mid-term election backlash.

"Gloom, despair and agony on me!"

Alfred Differ said...

pfft. Progressives and Free Market Fetishists. Hah. 8)

I'll vote against the fascists and trust my neighbors to do what is necessary when some of our other neighbors froth at the mouth. I'll even help them do what is necessary.

Time to go buy that blue k├ępi.

locumranch said...


If it means trusting the other over my neighbour, then make my kepi grey. :p

Robert said...

Larry, you're all for Hillary being President.

Now consider how younger voters would feel. Especially given how things are going down with the Republican Party.

Over in Republicansville you have accusations of infidelity, I think nude pictures of potential First Ladies, and widescale bile that has caused condemnations toward the Republican candidates as a whole (and Kasich no doubt trying to play the high ground so in the case of a contested primary, he can step forward and point out he's not been slinging mud and is the one candidate who could unite the factions out there. If Cruz is smart, he goes back to his original Plan A according to Dr. Brin, tosses his delegates in with Kasich in exchange for being Vice President, and in eight years goes for the Presidency).

And then we have Bernie Sanders. He said "enough about her e-mails" and has not dragged Clinton's name through the mud. He has been polite and genteel, especially in comparison to the Republicans. He keeps pointing out things Clinton does not want pointed out about the 1% and has dragged Clinton to the left to try and fight Sanders off.

And he is too negative. No nude pictures. No name calling. No dragging out her multiple skeletons. He sticks to his message, over and over and over. The media derides it and calls him a one-trick pony... but it is drawing more and more people to him. Because he's not let things distract him from that message, and while that might be boring to the news media... it is a message that resonates with voters.

Clinton does not want to debate Sanders because if she goofs now, she could lose big. She still could. It is entirely probable that Sanders will win big in a number of states that Obama claimed over Clinton last time. He is following Obama's path... and has every possibility of pulling off an upset, especially if Clinton allows a debate.

Do you know what Clinton using "he is too negative" says to Sanders' supporters? It says "I don't respect you or your message and the moment I get rid of you, I'm going right back to what I was going to promise originally. You dared get in the way of my rightful coronation."

What's more, they feel she will say or do anything to get elected. They don't trust her. I follow them online, I see their messages, their comments. (I also see how the Randian Libertarians are busy trying to tear Sanders a new one - they are attacking him where the Republicans have ignored him for the most part. I follow some interesting folks online. ^^)

So feel free to dismiss complaints about Clinton and her refusal to debate Sanders. But do realize that in doing so, she is alienating his base. She is treating them as disobedient children by refusing to acknowledge Sanders as a credible electoral opponent. And because of that, they will refuse to vote for her... and if she is the Democratic Presidential candidate for the general election, you will see the Republicans keep the House and Senate.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Larry, you're all for Hillary being President.


I predicted that Hillary will be president. That doesn't mean she's my first choice. As NorMan GoldMan says on the radio show, you're functioning as a booster (for Sanders) whereas I'm trying to function as an analyst. Those are two very different roles.

I don't despise Hillary the way you do, but I preferred Obama in aught-eight, and I'd have preferred Sanders this time around. I even voted for him in the Illinois primary. But I think Hillary will get the nomination (without super-delegates), and if so, I will enthusiastically support her and her Supreme Court nomination(s) to be.

Now consider how younger voters would feel.


I would if they would actually...whatyacall...vote. :)


Especially given how things are going down with the Republican Party.

Over in Republicansville you have accusations of infidelity, I think nude pictures of potential First Ladies, and widescale bile that has caused condemnations toward the Republican candidates as a whole...

And then we have Bernie Sanders. He said "enough about her e-mails" and has not dragged Clinton's name through the mud. He has been polite and genteel, especially in comparison to the Republicans. He keeps pointing out things Clinton does not want pointed out about the 1% and has dragged Clinton to the left to try and fight Sanders off.


Sounds like a win-win to me. Younger voters have a clear choice between the real grownups in the room (a mantle the GOP liked to claim for themselves until recently) and the incompetent schoolyard bullies. Why wouldn't they vote Democratic?


And he is too negative.


She's not saying he's been too negative all along. She's saying he's going that way now. And I think she has a point. It's a lose-lose situation. Bernie obviously feels that going negative is his only shot, but I don't think he has a shot left, and by going negative, he hurts the Democratic Party by giving cover to Republican antics. It lets conservatives like Tacitus look at Trump or Cruz and go "Yeah, both sides are doing that." I don't blame Hillary for not wanting a debate that might end up in the mud. It's not a question of whether it would lose her the nomination (it won't). It's a question of what the party looks like afterwards.


He sticks to his message, over and over and over. The media derides it and calls him a one-trick pony... but it is drawing more and more people to him. Because he's not let things distract him from that message, and while that might be boring to the news media... it is a message that resonates with voters.


When Bernie goes negative, he goes off message. He risks losing his supporters if they think he's just another aspirant to the office of the presidency, rather than a true revolutionary who knows he will win eventually, but that things don't always happen right away. People are disgusted with the antics on the Republican side, yes. Are you saying the Democrats should aspire to the same effect?

Your earlier rhetorical question about "What will she do against Trump or Cruz if she's such a hothouse flower against Bernie?" misses the point. She doesn't want a guns-blazing battle between Democrats. She can easily win one against Republicans. Maybe Bernie can as well? I'll support whichever is the nominee, but at this point, the math is such that I don't see how it's not going to be Hillary. So, I'm not anxious to weaken the likely candidate.

Robert said...

Now see? This was a good counterargument. You made some valid and interesting points.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

They don't trust her. I follow them online, I see their messages, their comments.


I think you're making the same mistake my old conservative buddy Chris used to make in 2008. You're essentially "polling" the fanatics who post continually on the internet as if they represent the vast majority of voters.

You're also making the separate mistake of conflating "people who would rather see Sanders win than Hillary" with "people who would rather see a Republican win than Hillary." In 2008, President Obama won plenty of states he had lost to Hillary in the primaries.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Now see? This was a good counterargument. You made some valid and interesting points.


Were you talking to me? :) I'd like to think that's what I've been doing.

And when this election is over, I still want to be friends with you. I am a fan of comics, after all.

Robert said...

I am friends with a chap whose views on women and religion are quite contrary to my own. He is all for Trump winning and doesn't trust Sanders (and definitely doesn't trust Clinton). And his views are that I'm likely going to burn in Hell because I'm not Christian. That said, while we get into arguments and I grit my teeth and want to shake him by his shoulders through the Internet... he's my friend.

I don't allow differences in beliefs to get in the way of friendship. That would just be silly. :)

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

@Robert,

Next to that guy, I should be your best friend. :)

Concerning the enthusiasm gap between Hillary and Bernie, you might check out today's (March 30) page on http://www.electoral-vote.com/

It's too picture-y to excerpt here, but it makes a case that Hillary is doing better on "enthusiasm" than is popularly believed.

Alfred Differ said...

Okay. Too much huggy-huggy stuff going on here. This is political season. Aren't we supposed to be tearing down our civilization about now? 8)


@Rob H: It's not just the Randian Libertarians who are perturbed with Sanders. Guys like me are too. I'll take him in a heartbeat over the GOP monsters, but I honestly believe his economic views are going to hurt the people he intends to help. Since some of those people are friends of mine, I have a problem with that.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: You should consider trading in your neighbors for new ones. We WILL find the modern equivalent for Sherman if we are pushed into it.

LarryHart said...

Alfred:

It's not just the Randian Libertarians who are perturbed with Sanders. Guys like me are too. I'll take him in a heartbeat over the GOP monsters, but I honestly believe his economic views are going to hurt the people he intends to help.


President Sanders would not be a unitary executive. I suspect a Sanders presidency would soon disappoint his supporters in much the way the Obama presidency did--one man as president can't transform the country as much as he implicitly promises to do or that his detractors explicitly fear he would.

I maintain as I often have that it's safer to elect Democrats than Republicans if you are disinclined toward both of them. Democrats will be relatively tame, and you can vote them out again in two or four or six years. Republicans are the ones who will do serious damage before lunch.

David Brin said...

Yawn locum we knew your kepi would be gray. Shock! Everything you say is rationalization for the predetermined fact. And we (or at least me) still kinda like having you around.

Rob H bah, you are making molehill mountains. Good lord, so she wants to limit the number of debates and concocts a lame excuse. BFD You’ll all in a twist over minor TACTICS?

Dig it. It is utterly predictable that Bernie is human and hence at this point getting sugar plum fantasies. If that makes him go all-out on Hillary, we all lose. Part of his appeal is that he has his priorities and head screwed on right.

“They don't trust her. I follow them online, I see their messages, their comments.”

Jiminy! read my next posting. You believe they are all sincere?

My chief Sanders cavils are process oriented.

— He’s unable to see how “socialism” was a seriously misguided word to use, when he could have said “restored New Deal.”

— A president is not just policies. It is appointments and negotiations. Bernie could rant beautifully as VP. As president I know he’d do practical politics… and dealing with the military and other agencies… much less well than Hillary.

David Brin said...

Continue here if you like.

I am moving onward.

onward