Saturday, July 16, 2016

Marvels of the Cosmos: Our 2nd moon! And Juno! A cosmic 'crunch"?

Hey Jupiter!  We’re baaa-aack!  Launched in August of 2011, NASA's Juno spacecraft arrived near the largest planet in the solar system on July 4th. Juno will enter a difficult polar orbit, measuring Jupiter's water content, mapping its magnetic fields, fierce radiation storms and searching for signs of a solid core, passing as close as 5,000 km above Jupiter's cloud tops. (That should be AWESOME!)  Its final maneuver.... will be a suicidal plunge into Jupiter's dense atmosphere. 

== Solar System Marvels ==

A mini moon for Earth? A second “moon,”asteroid 2016 HO3, is currently locked into “a century old little dance” with Earth, an elliptical orbit between 38 and 100 times the distance of our planet’s primary moon.  Don’t get too excited. It’s teensy. NASA says it’s larger than 120 feet (36.5 metres) across, but no more than 300 feet (91 metres) wide, and will orbit for many more centuries to come.  Though that may make it ideal for our first harvesting mission! Interestingly, its dimensions are that of a small starship.


So kewl! Another Curiosity rover selfie, along the alien slopes of Mt Sharp, on Mars.


See the latest stunning high-resolution images of Pluto's surface sent back from NASA's New Horizons mission after its closest approach in 2015. The photo to the left shows rugged highlands bordering hummocky cratered uplands and smooth uncratered ice plains, indicating much more complex geology than expected for this dwarf planet. What a change from our previous images of Pluto -- merely an indistinct dot of light. Now we can view details such as ice volcanoes towering miles over the surface. 

This is fun: see these new full-color spinnable maps of Pluto and Charon. Explore the geography and named features of these worlds. Approaching Pluto: This NASA video, assembled from New Horizons images, shows what it would be like to approach and swoop down toward Pluto, landing on its icy plains. 

More evidence that Pluto has an ice-roofed ocean? New Horizon's probe recorded deep cracks marking Pluto's surface. That leads researchers to conclude that something, perhaps heat radiating from radioactive elements in the dwarf planet's core, is keeping the ocean on Pluto wet. 


Phil Plait at his best, explaining why Cassini’s discovery of 36 fast-moving dust particles is such a big deal. Interstellar travellers!  Sayeth Phil: “we have tasted the stars.  You can fault humanity for a lot of ills, but sometimes, when we reach beyond ourselves, when we yearn to understand the Universe, we can truly be a wonderful species.”

Earth's twin - Venus has sulfuric acid rainstorms and surface temperatures to melt lead. No lander there has lasted even an hour as electronics soon fry. (At NIAC we have funded a small effort to develop a lander whose lonic and movement and even data-recording would all be mechanical-analog and wind-powered.) Now it seems that Venus has got a monstrous electric wind that appears to have helped strip all the water out of the atmosphere.


At NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program (I am on the external council),  we have funded a number of provocative concepts for exploring asteroids or Venus of Europa. Look up the next NIAC Symposium August 23-25 in Raleigh North Carolina. The meetings are open to the public! (With RSVP.)

== Marvels of the Cosmos ==


A reborn universe... Could the vision of Poul Anderson and Frank Tipler (in Tau Zero and The Physics of Immortality) come back?  Might the universe undergo a collapse and a “bounce-back,” allowing us to evade the need for a truly bottomless singularity or even inflation? (Or the heat death of endless dissipation discussed by Freeman Dyson?) This kind of "bounce" is bizarre on many levels and I admit I don’t routinely operate at this “high church” end of physics… though I understand enough to ask good questions.  This article and others glide past a number of vexing points… like how today’s accelerating expansion - propelled by Dark Energy - ever slows down enough to contract!  Still… fascinating.


The Cosmic Web: Mysterious Architecture of the Universe, by Princeton astrophysicist J. Richard Gott, takes an in-depth look at the latest theories of cosmology, as well as growing evidence for the superstructure of the cosmos, which appears to consist of clusters of galaxies strung in an immense cosmic web. Mind boggling!

(And you San Diegans! I will be on stage again this August with astrophysicists Brian Keating and Andrew Friedman for another "evening with the Three Physicists." (Not tenors, though we are amigos.) This time re Mathematics and the Mid of God. Ooooooh! hosted by UCSD's new Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, where the sciences and arts come together to explore humanity's most unique gift.) Register to attend.

Meanwhile... Researchers have observed a black hole swallowing a star and ejecting a flare of matter moving at nearly the speed of light… a cataclysm of stellar destruction followed by the launch of polar jets, occurring over several months.



Tycho supernova remnant
A spectacular image from rapidly advancing astronomy - a vastly better view of the expanding and ongoing Tycho supernova.  But don’t stop there. Go on to the Chandra X-Ray site to see amazing closeups and the story of an unlucky star that was too close when the Tycho blew up! In fact, it seems likely the companion star “caused” the supernova.

Magnificent scientific art... Out of this world: Why the most important art today is made in space. This article from The Guardian reflects on the grandeur of astronomic images - such as the magnificent Pillars of Creation and others from the Hubble Space Telescope - that have reshaped our understanding of the cosmos, and might be considered some of the finest art of our generation. "Great art should fill us with a new vision of the world - indeed the cosmos - and our place in it," writes Jonathan Jones.

Indeed, I have elsewhere maintained the the most important works of visual art were the images of the atom bomb mushroom cloud and the Earth as a blue oasis, seen from space. These images changed us!  


Can you think of another (hypothetical) image that would do the same? Jar us into taking meaningful steps toward growing up?




103 comments:

R C Larlham said...

Allow me to express my gratitude for these most cogent summaries of extremely important new happenings in space. I am a fan of your fiction, but your ability to compress so much knowledge into so few words is something of which I am truly in awe. Whoda thunk Pluto had volcanoes and a liquid ocean (however deeply buried under that awesomely cold surface), and I probably never would have found out about Earth's second moon or Cassini's star dust capture if it weren't for this showing up in my news feed on Facebook. Thank you so much.

R C Larlham

Deuxglass said...

A hypothetical image that stir us out our complacency? A photo of a blue planet in the habitable zone of another star of course!

David Brin said...

Thanks RCL. Deuxglass I figured the first unambiguous blip of sapient origin in a SETI screen would also shift our brains.
Or the image of a giant alien ship hovering over one of our cities. That'd do it to, I guess. But now we're wandering...

Susan H Beaty said...

Great post, but I'm too sleepy to check out all these intriguing links tonight!

Paul SB said...

Pictures that would change the way we think: obviously anything that would prove extraterrestrial life would be major. In addition to the blue Earth taken from Luna and the mushroom cloud, I can think of a couple others that have had an impact, though probably not as shaking as those two. The first thing that came to mind was the first picture sent back by the Venera probes to Venus, though it was more the temperature and pressure data that was the shocker, so maybe not so much the image itself. Pictures of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch might qualify, though we already had a sense of how badly we can foul our planetary nest, it seems to me that real serious initiatives, like California's ban on plastic grocery bags, would not have happened without some of the brutal images of decayed sea birds filled with plastic garbage, or that one of the sea turtle that got caught in a plastic ring and grew up around it.

I wish I had more time - totally empathizing with Susan HB. Summer School has been a real slog-fest... but I want to get back to some commentators from recent threads. Love the space science, though!

Deuxglass said...

Donzelion,

You know Turkey well. Was it a false flag or is Erdogan just being opportunistic?


It’s very interesting what Lakoff says. Legal, scientific and mathematical languages are devoid of metaphors. Movies, literature and art are full of them. What does that say about the respective brains of those in these professions? What about Dr. Brin who does both? Maybe we should put him into a MRI to see how his brain works.

Jumper said...

Thanks for the pointer towards Lakoff.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Lakoff

This will add to my reading of Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking.

Paul SB said...

Being devoid of metaphors (okay, maybe this is true for mathematics, but both law and science TRY to use neutral, specific language that is as light as possible on metaphor - but metaphor is far more pervasive in human language than people realize {check out Lakoff's "Metaphors We Live By} so even these are not really free of it) is a double-edged sword. It tries to make communication as clear as possible by avoiding words that can have multiple meanings and, more important, multiple implications. However, since human thought is organized by schemata, metaphorical thinking is what comes naturally. This, ironically, is a huge roadblock to understanding both legalese and scientific jargons, and why good science journalists who can translate, as well as popularizers like Neil Tyson are worth their weight in gold. (Funny, the legal profession doesn't seem to get a lot of translators or popularizers.)

As to putting a scientist turned fiction writer into an MRI, that would be cool, except that you would have n=1 - titillating but not very generalizable. Bad research design. Try to scare up as many people as possible who live that division, people who have to use very precise language professionally on the one hand but engage in more creative pursuits regularly. We're more likely to find a lot of scientists who are avocationally artistic than people who have truly crossed career paths like Dr. Brin. Still, this could be a fascinating study. Anybody good at grant-writing, or have an in with the NIH?

Paul SB said...

Paul 451, from a long time ago in some distant thread...

Re: Arranged marriages.

Perhaps I should have been clearer. Arranged marriages are a type of sexual selection in humans. As are all forms of cultural selection. Arranged marriages (whether familial, football clubs, or phone-apps) are a subset of sexual selection.

Yes, you are right. However, traditional arranged marriages tend to reduce selective pressure, which is the whole point of selection in the first place. When studying Medieval History back in college, we discussed the relative merits of arranged marriage versus what you might call "free market marriage" as we mostly do today. One of the points the professor made was that in societies where marriage is traditionally arranged, virtually everyone was assured a marriage partner, and ultimately reproduction. Mind you this was a history class and no one was thinking in Darwinian terms, myself included as I had not taken much anthropology yet, but thinking about it in those terms, arranged marriage is one of those practices that is good for individuals but bad for the species overall. Under arranged marriage you won't see a lot of people cracking under the pressure of their own hormones like that looney up in Santa Barbara - to say nothing of huge numbers of angry white males who might not be going to Limbaugh or Trump rallies if they could get girlfriends. But with arranged marriage, selection is done by the parents, and the only qualifier is their perceived need for familial alliances. It doesn't matter if either partner is as smart as a cabbage sandwich, looks like an Irish Setter, suffers from suicidal depression, chronic incontinence or whatever. Traits that would be selected against in nature are being preserved by indiscriminate selection, which is really selection in name only.

Are we better off with free market marriage instead of arranged marriage? No doubt most people would rather not have their parents choose who they are going to marry (myself included - if it were up to my mother I would still be unwed because no one is good enough for her children). On the other hand, most people are so obsessed with playing the mating game that perhaps they would get more done, and be a bit less stressed, if their most potentially productive years weren't squandered drooling over every member of the opposite sex (or the same, depending) that passed by. You might think I'm a little cynical, and you would probably be right.

Paul SB said...

Laurent, also from a thread long ago,

* "they fear that America is fundamentally changing, despite vast evidence that the children of recent immigrants become American even better than past generations did."

Or they may be doing the same thing than the french racists, whose racism is fueled by seeing the grandchildren of immigrants becoming much better French than them and hating being outmatched by the descendant of foreign proles.

Echoes of Charles the Bald?

Ages ago, when I had time for creative pursuits, I wrote a story in which escaped human slaves tried to convince an alien race to take them in. They managed to convince them by relating how Charles the Bald set up Normandy as a buffer zone between France and the Vikings, and how the Normans sought to become "more French than the French themselves" - as it was related in my history class, anyway - I imagine you must know a lot more about it than I do. But it makes me wonder about cultural assimilation. Under what circumstances do migrants assimilate the local culture, versus forming enclaves where they can maintain ethnic distinctiveness. I suspect it has a lot to do with the extent to which the migrants feel they can succeed verses how persecuted they are. This is probably relevant to the African-American experience today, even though they have been in North America for centuries.

LarryHart said...

PaulSB:

It [being devoid of metaphors] tries to make communication as clear as possible by avoiding words that can have multiple meanings and, more important, multiple implications. However, since human thought is organized by schemata, metaphorical thinking is what comes naturally. This, ironically, is a huge roadblock to understanding both legalese and scientific jargons, and why good science journalists who can translate, as well as popularizers like Neil Tyson are worth their weight in gold.


I'm reminded of an old National Lampoon "article" which criticized a T-shirt that said "Secretaries do it better!" for being too ambiguous, suggesting replacement with "Secretaries type more accurately" or else "Secretaries make fewer embarrassing mistakes during sex" to make the point clearer.

LarryHart said...

PaulSB:

Are we better off with free market marriage instead of arranged marriage?
...
On the other hand, most people are so obsessed with playing the mating game that perhaps they would get more done, and be a bit less stressed, if their most potentially productive years weren't squandered drooling over every member of the opposite sex (or the same, depending) that passed by.


Arranged marriage does tend to assure a partner and children for everyone. But doesn't it also at least increase the potential for marriages that don't satisfy one's sexual curiosity? Ultimately, aren't you just replacing "drooling over" with "coveting your neighbor's"?

Paul SB said...

David Burns,

Lakoff's analysis links neuroscience, metaphor and political persuasion through the idea of a frame. If an ad or discussion activates the right frame in the listener, the message will persuade because the metaphor works at a level below conscious thought. Pretty interesting.

Did Lakoff use the term /frame/ or is that your word? I haven't had time to look at the article, though I am familiar with Lakoff from earlier linguistic work. It sounds like Vyogotsky's "schema." You can start to imagine how you get regional differences, and how people from different backgrounds can see the same events and understand them entirely differently. Something that unconsciously activates one set of schema (or frames) in people in one place can activate an entirely different set for people in another. When I was teaching at a middle school in South Central LA - real ghetto territory, I often heard kids use the phrase "sharing is caring." For them, that phrase had nothing to do with helping people and making friends. It meant that someone wanted what you have and you are about to lose it. I think I can guess how they will wash out in terms of political affiliation, if any of them even bother to vote. Different experiences lead to different conclusions, including at the unconscious level Lakoff is concerned about elucidating.

I don't remember who said that the Libertarians would treat everyone like family, as opposed to treating everyone like livestock, but that doesn't sound very Libertarian. Libertarians that I have known tended to ignore the very existence of families, treating everyone like prey, in the sense that while they believe in equal liberty for all, it is only so they can compete freely. No familial kinship, just cut-throat competition. It's an improvement over Neocon cronyism, but hardly familial.

I wonder, sometimes, about our popular literature. Adventure and action stories tend to portray heroes with few or no family connections, as if we are all Rugged individuals ®.

Jumper said...

I see some metaphor in math: ratios. 8:4 = 2000:1000
Not being schooled in number theory I can't get much further along this line of thought. There seems something deeply metaphorical in the equals symbol itself.

LarryHart said...

There's something poetic about the fact that "ELEVEN PLUS TWO" and "TWELVE PLUS ONE" are anagrams of each other.

A physics text that I had in high school tried to point out that poetry is about more than just sound, and that the following lines would not constitute a poem, no matter how much it mimicked the form. In that, I think the text book failed to make its point:


And hence no force, however great
Can pull a cord, however fine
Into a horizontal line
That shall be absolutely straight.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

I don't remember who said that the Libertarians would treat everyone like family, as opposed to treating everyone like livestock, but that doesn't sound very Libertarian. Libertarians that I have known tended to ignore the very existence of families, treating everyone like prey, in the sense that while they believe in equal liberty for all, it is only so they can compete freely. No familial kinship, just cut-throat competition. It's an improvement over Neocon cronyism, but hardly familial.


I was going to say something like that as well. If people are feeling as if treated as livestock by the powerful--corporations as well as governments--then they'll really feel so when Libertarians succeed in neutering government and allowing corporations free reign.

More charitably than "prey", I'd say that Libertarians seem to treat others as objects in the natural world, not having anything to do with oneself, important only to the extend that they are useful or hostile to oneself. The very antithesis of family or society or civilization.


I wonder, sometimes, about our popular literature. Adventure and action stories tend to portray heroes with few or no family connections, as if we are all Rugged individuals ®.


You're veering into Dave Sim territory and his multi-part essay about how superheroes are written by Mama's Boys for Mama's Boys.

Not having family ties does make one "hostage immune". A big part of the older Superman mythos, mainly ignored today, is that Superman could never have a real relationship with Lois Lane because his enemies would then strike at him through her. Strangely enough, his standoffishness never seemed to stop the bad guys from threatening Lois anyway.

Jumper said...

Speaking of "math I can't do," I can't do the calculus needed to determine the time experienced for travelers undergoing 1g acceleration, including turnaround, to reach Alpha Centauri.
I did realize you don't need to turn off acceleration for turnaround: just slowly spin nose to tail over the course of some few minutes. The passengers would need not experience weightlessness if they didn't want to, just a slight unusual tilt to the floor until turnaround is complete.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

You can start to imagine how you get regional differences, and how people from different backgrounds can see the same events and understand them entirely differently. Something that unconsciously activates one set of schema (or frames) in people in one place can activate an entirely different set for people in another. When I was teaching at a middle school in South Central LA - real ghetto territory, I often heard kids use the phrase "sharing is caring." For them, that phrase had nothing to do with helping people and making friends. It meant that someone wanted what you have and you are about to lose it. I think I can guess how they will wash out in terms of political affiliation, if any of them even bother to vote. Different experiences lead to different conclusions, including at the unconscious level Lakoff is concerned about elucidating.


This is very much at work in the term of the current president.

Radio host Norman Goldman recently played a YouTube clip from a guy--I forget his name--who makes a point of filing frivolous lawsuits in order to use subpoena power to dig for dirt. In any case, this guy spoke at length about how President Obama has used his office to impose reparations for black people into law. That is how he views such diverse elements as Obamacare, Black Lives Matter, the Voting Rights Act, and all manner of other things real or imagined--President Obama forcing white people to give stuff to blacks.

To me, this rant is ridiculous on too many levels to count, but it is dangerous to ignore or dismiss the fact that there is a significant portion of the American population who shares this view--to whom this rant makes perfect sense. Even if we could sit down together and have a civil discussion about issues, it would be hard for me to have a meaningful conversation with such people, because our frames of reference--our unconscious assumptions--are so different that we'd be using words to mean entirely different things.

Jumper said...

I think much adventure fiction is an extension of bildungsroman or coming-of-age stories. It satisfies the desire to mature further, an extension by proxy of the "vision quest."
Cowboy novels by Louis L'Amour are some the most popular prison reading...

Anonymous said...

Grandious has-been images of a faded power; apart from dubious claims as to the "best year in space", humans have not gotten beyond low-earth orbit in some fourty four years, and while nuking the living snot out of the biosphere may appeal to some, more relevant photos might include the crushing death of Allison Liao, grandmother clutching the lifeless body (car sitting is your adulated progress, y'know) or a blank photo that does not include fireflies, one fruit of your progress that has sent insect populations into decline, among the many other warning indicators from the biosphere. Though, I suppose that spacing out while drowning in the toxic sludge of the Western death path is a viable coping mechanism…

Jumper said...

Yeah, since pessimism doesn't seem to be a great motivator, a sort of deluded optimism actually helps make things better than the pessimism does. Ironic, isn't it?

Jumper said...

Complacence finds a way to be at home under either.

Jonathan Sills said...

"Not having family ties does make one "hostage immune". A big part of the older Superman mythos, mainly ignored today, is that Superman could never have a real relationship with Lois Lane because his enemies would then strike at him through her. Strangely enough, his standoffishness never seemed to stop the bad guys from threatening Lois anyway."

That's a large part of why the writers eventually tossed that part out - over time, Clark came to realize that the bad guys were going to associate Lois with him anyway, so there was no reason for them to stay apart. Currently in comics, they're married and have a son, named "Jonathan" for Clark's foster father. (I haven't read those issues personally, so am unaware if they ever went into an explanation of how an alien and a human reproduced, especially given that DC Comics already established that Kryptonians have a three-strand DNA structure - that's why the clone, Con-El, had to be finished up with some human DNA, because their cloning device couldn't make the triple helix work. Of course, Con-El was made by fusing Kal-El's DNA with that of Lex Luthor, because why not...)

Anonymous said...

Re: Arranged Marriages.

Parents who arrange marriages are wanting to maximize the chances that their grandchildren will be healthy, wealthy, and wise. Their choice of a spouse for their child might not be the same as what their child would have chosen, but the goal - having things work out well - is the same. Thus, someone who is incompetent, mean, stupid, and has poor hygiene, is not going to fare well in the marriage market.

David Brin said...

In fact I have long held that sourpuss complainers play a vital role in helping us navigate the shoals ahead. Critics who passionately attack problems - like Greenpeace sea warriors - are living examples of "self-preventing pessimists" and they are among the main reasons why -- against EVERY prediction from the 1980s -- we not only have whales today, but ALL of them, all of the species and nearly all of them in steadily rising numbers.

That may change tomorrow and I send money to these activists. I write books like EARTH & Existence which have helped in their own small ways. Critics I love. They help the world.

Snarking pessimist playground-snarlers like anonymous are the very opposite. Their hell-bent aim is to rail that we are all hell-bound and give up. If the world its to be saved, it will be by folks who shrug off such twits.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Critics who passionately attack problems - like Greenpeace sea warriors - are living examples of "self-preventing pessimists" and they are among the main reasons why -- against EVERY prediction from the 1980s -- we not only have whales today, but ALL of them, all of the species and nearly all of them in steadily rising numbers.

That may change tomorrow and I send money to these activists. I write books like EARTH & Existence which have helped in their own small ways.


I don;t mean this as an attack, but just a question arising from curiosity. You give money to groups like Greenpeace, but also present them as villains of a sort in EARTH. I mean, in the showdown between the environmentalists and Sea State, the reader's sympathy certainly seems to be with the latter.

I understand nuance and irony--just curious as to how much the writer's ambivalence is intentional there.

Jumper said...

"Antinuclear activist's home washed away by rising sea level" is probably a near-certain headline some day...

Anyway, Wiki answered most of my questions on constant acceleration:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_travel_using_constant_acceleration

Erin Schram said...

Mathematics does not need metaphors. Mathematics is a metaphor. A metaphor helps us understand an action or concept by treating it as another action or concept that behaves the way we want to explain. Mathematics reduces actions and concepts to abstract symbols that we invented by examining other actions and concepts, and answers questions with those abstract symbols.

Or to put it metaphorically, metaphor is a carrot, high in beta carotene and loaded with crunch and flavor. Mathematics is a Vitamin A capsule, efficient and flavorless. Both are a good source of Vitamin A.

George Lakoff's explanation of Donald Trump's popularity because he is a metaphor for a strict father who knows best feels like it is missing several dimensions. We humans uses metaphors for shortcuts of thought, letting us jump to conclusions and confirm those conclusions afterwards (but beware confirmation bias, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the group think, and shun the biased data snatch! Ah, Lewis Carroll was a master of words and metaphor). We use many metaphors to check any single metaphor for flaws. We think of a government not only as a family, but also as a tribe, a community club, a business, and a sporting franchise. Donald Trump also fits the metaphor of a volatile, insult-hurling football coach--Lakoff even quoted Vince Lombardi without noticing that he invoked a football-coach metaphor. I suppose we could highlight Donald Trump's flaws more by comparing him in the lights of other metaphors. Can he be an elder statesman like George Washington? Would you elect him to the presidency of your jogging club? Can he be as fair in dealing with his players as Vince Lombardi? No, no, forever no.

LarryHart said,
And hence no force, however great
Can pull a cord, however fine
Into a horizontal line
That shall be absolutely straight.


I read an article decades ago, perhaps by Martin Gardner, that described that poem as an example of "found poetry." It was a line in a physics textbook that just happened to rhyme and scan, and it expresses a complete idea as concisely as a poem, so it is a poem even though it was not deliberately written as one.

David Brin said...

LarryHart I find it disturbing that I present one scene after another portraying dozens of characters - in EARTH - engaged in vigorous environmental activism... and because one brilliant extremist represents a far-out loony wing, you generalize that I " present them as villains of a sort in EARTH."

Dig it, no depiction of any movement is complete without a portrayal of its wing nuts. In the end it is a battle between two archetype earth mothers that decides destiny. Hence your appraisal puzzle and kinda depresses me.

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin,

I said I was aware of nuance and irony, and not attacking you. I also said villains "of a sort" intentionally.

I was not thinking of the one brilliant extremist (no spoilers), but rather of the scene at sea where a Greenpeace-like ship initiates conflict with a outgunned and beleaguered flotilla from Sea State. And while even there, both sides have good arguments on their side, it seems that the reader identifies with Sea State in that scene, and cheers when (no spoilers) shows up to change the odds.

David Brin said...

The reader IDs with Sea State because that is the point of view character's position! And it points out the quandary that good people face, often, between helping the poor and helping the planet. Hey, changing points of view to offer contrasting perspectives is my JOB!

David Brin said...

“We're more likely to find a lot of scientists who are avocationally artistic…”

All of the first rate scientists I’ve known had artistic avocations, often at near pro levels.


Robert said...

Speaking as a Libertarian, that is a broad fucking brush you are tarring me and other Libertarians with.

I know a young Libertarian (in her 20s) lady, Avens O'Brien, who is a caring and responsible young woman. She is also a libertarian, though I don't think she belongs to the Libertarian Party at this time (and neither do I for that matter - I quit after a Libertarian candidate running against Ted Kennedy accused him of murdering the sailors on the U.S.S. Cole and the Libertarian Party didn't say one thing against her views. I do not appreciate that level of stupidity. Hey, I also feel the anti-vaccer crowd are along the same level of stupidity, so it's not just her).

Avens speaks at Libertarian conventions. She was a supporter of McAffrey and Weiss (and actually had been in a relationship with Weiss for a while and parted on friendly terms and is still friends with him), when those two ran in the Libertarian "primary." She is not a predator. She has strong feelings toward family.

As for me, I consider family to be quite important as well. I may not have a wife or children, but that's because I'm attracted to smart women and they're too smart to want to be with someone like me.

I am quite sure other Libertarians are not monsters either. Just as there are different types of Republicans and different types of Democrats, there are different types of Libertarians. Myself, I'm a Social Libertarian - I believe government does need to be involved in environmental laws and should regulate business on several levels, but also should not be involved in our bedrooms or personal lives. Other Libertarians lean more toward the corporate side of things, and some are much closer to Anarchists and want to minimize government to the point that it essentially doesn't exist.

So next time you feel like calling all Libertarians predators and the like, shut the fuck up because you have no idea what you are talking about.

Rob H.

Robert said...

BTW, that wasn't directed at Dr. Brin who didn't say a thing about calling Libertarians predators. Those folk know who they are. This was directed to them.

Rob H.

Jumper said...

Freedom lovers often have unsavory bedfellows, in the form of criminals (especially prison inmates - ha). Corporate abusers of the commons will mouth libertarian sentiments. So which is Clive Bundy? I know what I think. Believers in polygamy often mouth libertarian sentiments yet manage to run foodstamp frauds shamelessly. Many amoral or sociopathic types will mouth these sentiments. Cokeheads are notorious for it.
I forget if it was Tim Leary or Robert Anton Wilson who said he threw Libertarians into a conundrum when he stated that we already live in a libertarian society so what are they complaining about?

Paul SB said...

Rob H.,

Sorry! But I thought I wrote "most of the Libertarians I know" not "all Libertarians." Most of the Libertarians I have met have been the type Dr.Brin calls "propertarians" - people who fetishize property rights above all. The older, more Smithies variety are much more sensible, but in my experience much less common. Likewise with conservatives. There was a time when most of them were reasonable people who had a different frame of reference from liberals, and disagreed with them mainly in quantity (how much budget should be spent on X versus Y or Z, how many government employees are necessary for the operation of Program A, etc.) That sort of conservative has been dwindling for a very long time, at least in the public limelight.

No offense intended! I have not forgotten the affiliation of our host, either.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

A study in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 2014 did a careful analysis of released felons. Very accurate data was available for only 3 states. It found in the state of New York, 61.5 percent registered Democratic, only 9 percent registered Republican.

In New Mexico, 51.9 percent registered Democratic, 10.2 percent registered Republican.

In North Carolina, 54.6 percent registered Democratic, 10.2 percent registered Republican.

This is why I don't post here very much. Mostly Democrats. Probably too many unsavory characters around here. Probably a lot of predators.

So what do the above statistics really prove. Absolutely nothing. Just like Jumper's latest comments.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Hey, changing points of view to offer contrasting perspectives is my JOB!

When I said "villains", I meant the environmentalists were the villains in that particular scene. I'm sorry you get the idea I'm arguing with you. The complexity of your stories is a reason I'm a fan, not a problem. Even the Holnist diatribes sometimes left me questioning "Hey, it sounds like they're right about this one thing!" And it never once occured to me that you personally agreed with the Holnists. That just makes the characters believable instead of caricatures.

David Brin said...


Thanks Paul for amending your too-broad assertion about libertarians. I make it one of my priorities to minister to that crowd, reminding them of Smith and that oligarchy destroyed more competitive-creative systems than bureaucrats ever did. Just remembering that flat-open-=fair-creative “competition” should be their core word – instead of the vague-to-uselessness “freedom” – gets a real response.

Indeed, of all the somewhat-dogmatic groups that I ever speak to, libertarians are the ones I find most ready to actually argue and to hear something outside their comfort zone.. They do invite me back.

OTOH… I’ll announce it here first… it seems I will be in Philadelphia in 10 days, speaking on a panel at the Democratic National Convention.

Jerry E… come on. We have heavily criminalized many aspects of life in lower economic layers. Republican predators are less often caught.

LH: you get one of these ;-)

Jerry Emanuelson said...

David, my remarks were directed specifically at Jumper's nonsense comment. I was trying to illustrate what nonsense it was.

You make an excellent point, though, about heavily criminalizing aspects of life that hit lower economic layers the hardest. This often makes it exceedingly difficult for those in lower economic sectors to ever make it into the middle class. Most of the victimless crimes (that should not be crimes at all) are committed by those who lack the means to defend themselves in the legal system, or to recover financially when they get out of prison.

Those legislators who enact victimless crime laws are the ones who should be in prison.

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of a favorite quote -

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." - Anatole France


D

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

Maybe instead of "competition" or the more juvenile "freedom" they should strive for "fairness" or perhaps "fair competition." Freedom seems to be just the rationalization for letting the rich get richer and the poor get poorer (and few see that this ultimately impoverishes the rich, in the long run, because by robbing the majority of financial resources they erode the markets that support their wealth. Most Libertarians I know are little different from conservatives, and in fact most of them are conservatives who couldn't stomach the Neocons by the end of the Bush Administration. (And I know I said "most of the Libertarians I know" but I can see how Rob H. might have felt picked on). As far as Libertarians being more willing to argue, my experience has been that this is true, but more like Jehovah's Witnesses than Tellarites. Given that they keep inviting you back, I am betting that it's a regional thing. Your libertarians are a better bunch than the ones I grew up with.

Since I just finished Earth recently, it's still fresh in my mind. I can say that I could tell right away that you were telling the story from several viewpoints, some of which were clearly not your own. I kind of see what Larry was getting at, but since you were working from so many different perspectives, I didn't feel any animosity over the Sea State stuff. I was just pulling for the guy from Indiana (a state I lived in for a few years as a larva).

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Since I just finished Earth recently, it's still fresh in my mind. I can say that I could tell right away that you were telling the story from several viewpoints, some of which were clearly not your own.


People often talk of writing "the great American novel". I took "Earth" to be an expansion to "the great terran novel".

Paul SB said...

Jerry,

"Those legislators who enact victimless crime laws are the ones who should be in prison."

In 100% agreement here. There can be arguments over what constitutes "harm" and who is a victim. Maybe you will remember this or not, but back in the 80s the Pueblo City Council passed ordinances against putting neon lights on the undercarriages of cars. They claimed it was a night-time driving hazard, which is hard to fathom as they made the cars much more visible. But it was low-rider fashion at the time, and the Pueblo City Council was entirely made up of wealthy Caucasians, who simply wanted to declare war on the majority Hispanic population in any way they could. Likewise pretty much any law that tries to regulate sexual behavior among consenting adults will be a problem. Some religions still teach that normal behavior somehow harm people, making the so-called perpetrators their own victims.

Paul SB said...

"All of the first rate scientists I’ve known had artistic avocations, often at near pro levels."

I may have mentioned this before. When I was completing my teacher training, we were given bunch of obituaries to read. All of the deceased were very intelligent people, and the point of the exercise was to note how many different things they did in their lives. People who narrowly specialize don't grow a lot of dendritic connections - people who try many different things, and do them long enough to get to be good at them, grow those connections, becoming both smarter and long-lived. Variety is more than just the spice of life, and habit wilts the mind and body.

Paul SB said...

Erin,

Great point about mathematics as metaphor. Not being much of a mathematician, I didn't want to go where I wasn't qualified, but I remember older linguists than Lakoff making the point that all language is metaphorical. Basically all we ever do is compare what we know to what is knew, creating metaphors built on metaphors to build mental maps with which to navigate the world outside the space between our ears.

Also good points about Donald Dunk and the many roles a president must play. I certainly don't see him as a diplomat. People talked about "Cowboy Diplomacy" during the Bush years. Imagine Con Man Diplomacy? I just don't think people like Angela Merkel or even Vladimir Putin would not see right through him (and I am still disappointed he didn't take Scrooge McDuck as a running mate!)

Lena said...

Larry,

The great Terran novel? Good, but then, who do we have to compare it to? Martian lit is pretty scarce these days... :]

"To me, this rant is ridiculous on too many levels to count, but it is dangerous to ignore or dismiss the fact that there is a significant portion of the American population who shares this view--to whom this rant makes perfect sense. Even if we could sit down together and have a civil discussion about issues, it would be hard for me to have a meaningful conversation with such people, because our frames of reference--our unconscious assumptions--are so different that we'd be using words to mean entirely different things."

Story of my life, except that I grew up surrounded by exactly those people but somehow managed to not buy into their worldview. My best guess is that I must have something akin to the autism my children have been diagnosed with. Don't know for sure, but I have always been pretty OCD about moral issues, and most conservatives' morals always seemed to come across as little else but "every man for himself" (fiscal conservatives) or they sounded like Daleks shouting at everyone to obey (social conservatives).

"You're veering into Dave Sim territory and his multi-part essay about how superheroes are written by Mama's Boys for Mama's Boys."

I'm sorry, but I just can't take someone very seriously who uses the term "mamma's boy" as if it were anything more than a mere taunt flung by playground bullies. I liked his work back in the 80's and 90's when he was both funny and astute, but he eventually became the very thing he began his career mocking.

"Arranged marriage does tend to assure a partner and children for everyone. But doesn't it also at least increase the potential for marriages that don't satisfy one's sexual curiosity? Ultimately, aren't you just replacing "drooling over" with "coveting your neighbor's"?"

Good point, and ironic, since the 10 Commandments which have something to say about this were written at a time when arranged marriage was the norm. Now, with our more liberal customs, that rule is becoming outdated.

Paul SB said...

Weird, for some reason my last comment is headed "Lena" which is the American name my wife uses (common habit with overseas Chinese, feeling that people are more comfortable with their local names). My errant fingers must have slipped into some bizarre combination on the keyboard.

David Brin said...

Too bad. "Lena" sounded astute and much smarter than you, Paul! ;-) And we need more women!

Deuxglass said...

I always wonder why there are so few women here. Why is that?

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Under what circumstances do migrants assimilate the local culture, versus forming enclaves where they can maintain ethnic distinctiveness. I suspect it has a lot to do with the extent to which the migrants feel they can succeed verses how persecuted they are"

Actually it works the other way around: minority enclaves emerges as a result of white/bourgeois flight, leaving the poorer recent immigrants among themselves because they flock toward the cheaper places they can afford.

Persecutions, discriminations do shape the enclaves identities, but that comes after their formations.

***

* "George Lakoff's explanation of Donald Trump's popularity because he is a metaphor for a strict father who knows best feels like it is missing several dimensions"

No, it's merely misses the target: Trump is the metaphor for the schoolyard bully who beats everyone up and gets away with it because his dad is the town's larger employer.
Some people will lick the bully's boots because that way, their lunch money won't get stolen.

Paul451 said...

Re: Metaphor.

IMO, science is deeply metaphorical. At least assuming an ideal spherical metaphor on an infinite frictionless idea-scape.

Paul451 said...

PaulSB,
"However, traditional arranged marriages tend to reduce selective pressure, which is the whole point of selection in the first place."

Not so. It just changes who does the selection. Arranged marriages may exert an even greater selection pressure than conventional mating rituals.

"One of the points the professor made was that in societies where marriage is traditionally arranged, virtually everyone was assured a marriage partner, and ultimately reproduction."

Your professor really didn't think it through.

In a society with a high maternal death rate, as most traditional societies have, arranged marriages allow older, established men multiple chances to marry younger, fertile women. That leaves those young women unable to mate with young men. Meaning any young man without an established family and prospects will go unmated and drop out of the gene pool. Established older men will experience more late-in-life opportunities to reproduce, increasing their presence in the gene pool. The system greatly selects for high-status males. Perhaps moreso than a "romance"-based free-choice by young people themselves.

Likewise, with high infant mortality, and poverty-associated starvation and associated loss of fertility, any young woman who marries a poor male will have much fewer opportunities to reproduce. (And likely a short brutal life.) So the statistical selection pressure against low-status females will also be intense.

"and the only qualifier is their perceived need for familial alliances."

Arranged marriages are much more complex than that, and sure as hell isn't "indiscriminate selection". "Alliance" marriages are very rare, they are not the norm for arranged marriages.

Robert Carroll said...

Dr Brin,

I have loved your concept of the modern, diamond- shaped society. However, considering that much of western civilization's luxuiew rely on the third world countrys' labor, Im starting to think our society may not be diamond-shaped after all, but actually has hidden pyramidal feet located in the third world.

So far in your works I have not come across an answer to this idea. Could you point me to one, in your work or on other writing?

Anyone please comment,

Sincerely,

Troshen

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Weird, for some reason my last comment is headed "Lena" which is the American name my wife uses


The same reason Tactitus2 sometimes displays under his wife's pseudonym--you must have been logged into her google account or something like that at the time you posted.


Jerry,

"Those legislators who enact victimless crime laws are the ones who should be in prison."

In 100% agreement here


In some sense, isn't that where Libertarianuan comes from? The idea that government should stick to resolving disputes between individuals and get out of the business of regulating behavior of individuals? That's what I perceived anyway back when I thought I was a libertarian. Somehow, that morphed into a belief that the state should wither away altogether, which (paraphrasing Orwell) "is a different thing. In fact, it is the opposite thing."


Laurent Weppe said...

* "Im starting to think our society may not be diamond-shaped after all, but actually has hidden pyramidal feet located in the third world."

It does.
Which, by lowering the prices of many products (from foodstuff to computers) allow the western plebs to retain a fairly high material comfort despite the concentration of wealth at the top.
The irony is that this system is completely unnecessary: the rich tax-fraudsters and wage-thieves wouldn't lose much of their material comforts if they were forcefully dragged back to the upper middle-class levels of income, which would allow a better distribution of wealth within western societies, allowing western plebeians to afford more expensive stuff, thus allowing higher prices and better wages for the denizens of the countries where the goods are produced.

David Brin said...

Robert Carroll your basic instinct is correct but the bottom of the pyramid is blatantly machines.

Since the middle class is growing fastest - by far - in the developing world, accusations of western parasitism ring hollow.

I believe in liberal thoughts! But guilt trips should be thoughtful, not reflexive.

You are welcome here.

Jumper said...

I suppose my comments do look nonsensical if one assumes I was "trying to prove" something, which I wasn't. I'll stand by them, though. I'll grant the same to Jerry regarding his claim that 60% - 70% of ex-cons register to vote. Maybe that's true.

Jumper said...

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/few-ex-felons-registering-to-vote-in-virginia-225057
Here: now I'm trying to prove something.

Paul SB said...

"Too bad. "Lena" sounded astute and much smarter than you, Paul! ;-) And we need more women!"

But just as rambling? :/

As to why there are so few women here, I doubt there is a definitive answer, but I can always speculate (you've probably noticed that I do that a lot). If we go with the assumption that women are, on average, more auditory, that would make them better communicators (on average), so they might be more inclined to communicate face-to-face more so than on line (assuming on-line communication is a bit of a crutch for people who might need more time to compose responses - slow thinkers like myself). But then, when rarely I venture onto my Facebook account, it seems to be inhabited with more women than men. Most of that, though, is a catalog of mundanities - pictures of their children doing ordinary things, or photos from their favorite hang outs or vacations.

On Robert Carroll's question, one other thing to note is that 40 years ago Japan was a major center of low-wage manufacturing, but eventually their standard of living went up and they started exporting those jobs to S. Korea. Now the standard of living in S. Korea is higher and those low-wage jobs are being frame out elsewhere. Eventually we are going to run out of elsewheres to farm out the low-wage jobs and human society will reach a new equilibrium, one in which the average standard of living (and length of life) is higher across the planet). Do I sound like an optimist now?

I have to run to work, now, but I'll try to get back tonight. I don't have time right now to give very thoughtful (rambling) answers. I definitely want to get back to Paul451, among otters.

Jonathan Sills said...

Paul SB, if your children have been diagnosed as autistic, it's quite likely that either you or your wife are on the spectrum as well. There appears to be a strong hereditary component; while there are, of course, de novo mutations resulting in autism symptoms, said symptoms can generally be traced through the family. (My younger sister is profoundly autistic, as was one great-uncle; a couple of my maternal uncles showed what seemed to me in retrospect clear signs of at least mild Asperger's Syndrome; it came as no surprise to me when my daughter was diagnosed.)

Unfortunately for those of us hoping for a definitive biological diagnosis, the disorder (if it is indeed a disorder as such) seems to arise from the interactions of a large number of genes, rather than from one easily-traced mutation. Equally unfortunately, this still leaves a gap for loud-mouthed ignoramuses (ignorami?) to proclaim that their children's autism must have been caused by vaccines, or eating meat, or not eating enough bread, or whatever the cause du jour is, because it can't possibly have been their perfect flawless genes!

(And now I tamp it back down before I go into a full-blown angry rant...)

KB said...

RE: Why there are so few women here

I've been lurking for years, but tend to comment only when i have something intelligent to say, which is rare.

Also a certain poster prone to making incoherent arguments from dictionary definitions has probably scared off more than a few.

locumranch said...


Settling Venus

On the topic of the day, only an individual with a severe terrestrial bias would talk about 'landing' on Venus as there is absolutely no reason to do so. Fortunately, there are many many valid reasons to target Venus for preferential human exploration & settlement, especially when we compare Venus to the problematic low-gravity environments of the Moon, Mars & Outer Space:

(1) Venus is our closet neighbor;
(2) It is cheaper & easier to which to travel (being 'down hill');
(3) It approaches Earth-normal in mass & gravity (91% of that of Earth);
(4) It possesses all of the raw materials necessary for human life (in abundance);
(5) It's proximity to the Sun makes solar power the cheapest & most efficient option; and
(6) It possesses a copious atmosphere (40 to 50 times denser than Earth at it's surface).

All of these factors make Venus humanity's best hope for human colonisation, if & only if we say 'Screw You' to our terrestrial impulses & settle it's upper ATMOSPHERE (at an elevation of 30 to 40 miles) with balloons, dirigibles & 'lighter-than-Venusian-air' craft

Built on a raft of balloons, these high atmosphere environments can be rely on cheap 20th Century technology: They can FLOAT on an ocean of ultra-dense Venusian atmosphere; they do not have to be 'air-tight' in a strict sense as they can be continuously filled with local gases by 'pumps' at adjusted ratios (including nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide & H2O); they can be powered by almost any type of solar collector; and they can be synthesized with local materials as we now have a cheap CO2 --> hydrocarbon 'Reverse Combustion' process (if we take into account high Venusian CO2 pressures & concentrations). And, assuming we build our Venusian Habitats out of cheap hydrocarbon-based plastics, then even high atmospheric Sulfuric Acid levels are an easily-surmountable issue.

We could gird the entire Venusian globe with cheap habits in short order (an exponential fashion) -- each attached to & supported by redundant balloons to prevent failure -- with all of our raw materials just a short pipeline away.


Best

donzelion said...

@Deuxglass - LOL, I said I've studied and worked in the region for 20+ years, and know more than a lot of "experts" - but I never claimed that I actually knew it well. At least not enough to give you an answer with confidence. ;-)

Erdogan will certainly try to take advantage of an opportunity. The Gulenists are a shadowy bunch; in March 2016, a Turkish appeals court overturned convictions of a number of alleged coupsters because it found the government had failed to prove that the organization the coupsters were part of even existed. Then come July...

All that tells me that there is a great deal of contradictory evidence in place, and a lot of it not public. "Experts" are unlikely to know more than judges ruling in these cases, so the best that can be done in the face of uncertainty like this is to remain true to our own principles (in this case, NATO and Obama acted properly: neither endorsing nor attacking the coup immediately, but demanding that Turkish and non-Turkish civilians be protected - and then quietly, pushing for democracy to be honored, testing channels, and verifying which structures of power remain intact).

donzelion said...

@Locum - Why would dirigible colonies on Venus be cheaper than erecting the same structures on Earth, with the added advantage of a relatively safe landing opportunity here if anything goes wrong? Unless there's something at Venus that is specifically desirable, I don't see the logic to it.

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - "Since the middle class is growing fastest - by far - in the developing world, accusations of western parasitism ring hollow."

Perhaps Robert Carroll is also making a different point: that the correct way to view a society is not just with reference to the citizens of a particular state (who might be diamond-shaped, or pyramidal), but to the non-citizens who support and sustain the state. In that sense, one could replicate a confederate structure by making strict citizen/non-citizen divisions and enslaving the non-citizens (whatever minority, or if that didn't work, in whatever geography).

Half the problem of modern labor unions, despite claims of "international solidarity," has been a failure to functionally sustain international solidarity - to look further afield, to creatively unify with their colleagues abroad. They have numerous smart people conversing with one another, but you'll never find a "local" union embracing a "foreign" union (and will often find the locals fighting one another more than expanding globally).

That might change, if regional norms (treaties) require certain baseline cooperation. It's not that the West is "parasitic" - it's that the means of reining in our parasites that worked well here are not available there - until we take steps to make them possible.

locumranch said...


Donzelion asks an intelligent question: Venusian Dirigibles have many incredible buoyancy benefits because of extreme Venusian atmospheric DENSITY. And, as far as ensuring a 'safe landing opportunity there', do our Earthian shipping manufacturers insist on designing our oceanic fishing, container & recreational vessels with the capacity to function at the bottom of the Mariana Trench?

Kudos to our lurker KB, btw, for (first) asserting that many women rarely have something intelligent to say and (second) supporting her assertion by commenting anyway. She displays a remarkable level of 'self-awareness' (wherein 'self-awareness' is defined as "a state of being aware of oneself, including one's traits, feelings, and behaviors"), and she is always welcome to this-here 'fair-open-level' playing field.

Best ;)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Anyone know what the blue streaks are in those selfies? It's not a colour one expects to find on Mars.

Anonymous said...

locumranch@yahoo.com

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Jumper, apparently I was quite inarticulate yesterday in what I was trying to say with regards to your comment. I knew you weren't trying to prove anything.

It is just that many of us long-time libertarians have gotten abnormally sensitive to "guilt by association" because of the many attempts over many decades that have been made to associate unsavory characters with libertarianism.. I was trying to illustrate how silly "guilt by association" is. I apparently failed in that regard.

The problem is that so few people are really familiar with libertarianism that even the most casual remarks using "guilt by association" tend to stick in people's minds, and it takes an enormous amount of work to set things straight.

Jumper said...

I didn't mean that, Jerry. So many of my friends lean libertarian, as do I, but I just tired of terming myself that. I just say I'm a liberal; to hell with people who don't know the history of the word. (Not to mention it's foolishness to allow anyone to use that as an insult.) The demolishing of the 4th Amendment grieves me in the USA and autocrats elsewhere bother me. I have always had an urge to check out some of the grittier sides of things for elucidation, and found myself surprised when various types mouth the right words but then show they do it for the sake of venality. I have learned not to be so surprised. It's similar to a phenomenon I saw in construction with government employees claiming they are for Republican ideals but just build up hate for the government to justify ripping off the local city. It was like Reagan said, when he was the government: government is the problem.

occam's comic said...

Speaking of metaphors and income distributions, David uses the metaphors of diamond and pyramid to describe two different types of income distributions. I think that those metaphors (pyramid, diamond) are somewhat misleading because they don’t really capture the shape of the distribution of incomes.
Better metaphors would be push pin (instead of pyramid) and garlic bulb (instead of diamond). The push pin better describes what David calls the feudal system’s income distribution. It has a lot of very poor people and a thin narrow spike of increasing income. The garlic bulb better fits the industrial income distribution, you still have a lot of people at the bottom but you have more people slightly above the bottom of the distribution and that expands for a while then it starts to narrow into a thin spike as the income rises.

The interesting thing is that you can turn the push pin distribution into the garlic bulb distribution by simply pushing more resources through the system.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul451: I’m aware an ‘industry’ is a short-hand notation for a collection of businesses that both compete and cooperate. My friends and I researched the orbital debris problem and likely customers and that included interviews with some of them and potential investors in various ideas. The mirror concept isn’t all that different. Convince me you’ve researched this more than I have and we can keep debating it, but for now you sound a tad naïve. There is enough truth to what you say to make these projects difficult to finance from commercial sources, but your concern about free-riders demonstrates your ignorance. They always exist and change the possible IRR’s, so never plan for ideal situations.
________________

The former highlighted part is total economic activity, correct for price inflation, divided per capita. It says nothing about the experience of "the average person".

No. You are referring to inflation adjusted income. I’m referring to what that income can purchase. If the price of your labor goes up, real income goes up. If the price of things you need to buy goes down, your real income goes up. Instead of denominating your labor in dollars, price it in terms of a basket of goods and services you commonly buy. Since the average person devotes a larger share of their labor to purchase the basket than a richer person, either change (wages up or prices down) speaks a great deal about the experience of the average person.

I’m aware that inflation adjusted wages haven’t moved much in more than a generation here in the US. I’m also aware that inflation adjusted prices HAVE moved. I’m even more aware that the quality of what we buy has improved a great deal too, so a car purchase I make today tends to leave me in a position where I don’t have to buy another for MUCH longer. For example, I’ve only ever owned two small pickups for my personal use. I’ve bought two small cars for my wife too. I’m in my mid-50’s and I can easily see quality expectations changing over the decades. The market is delivering on those expectations too.

Alfred Differ said...

Science and math are devoid of metaphor?! Nonsense. All languages are built of analogy. Mathematics as language is thick with metaphors. To see this try translating some of it into English.
1. What does ‘multiply’ mean? (Hint: It’s not multiple additions.)
2. What does ‘divide’ mean? (Hint: It’s not about sharing.)

Work through Surfaces and Essences and by the time you get to the end you’ll see physics is stuffed full of metaphors that are rarely taught well by those of us who really should know them. I was rather embarrassed by the time I finished the book. 8)

Jim Baca said...

oh, great SciFi writer that you are. Write a short story about an alien intervention in which all guns on planet earth are turned into nerfballs. It could be hilarious.

David Brin said...

Alas, even when he dives into scientific or “safe” topics, locum often tosses stuff that sounds “truthy” but is not true:

“(2) It is cheaper & easier to which to travel (being 'down hill');” ⇐ zero comprehension of orbital mechanics. In fact it is easier to go outward, especially to Mars.

“(4) It possesses all of the raw materials necessary for human life (in abundance);” ⇐ well, so long as you exclude water. In fact anything with hydrogen in it. But why quibble?

“(5) It's proximity to the Sun makes solar power the cheapest & most efficient option;” ⇐ it is dark as hades under all that dense, sulfuric acid cloud cover.

and
(6) It possesses a copious atmosphere (40 to 50 times denser than Earth at it's surface). ⇐ Yes? And?

Having said all that, let me add that the Venusian upper atmosphere has been getting some attention for “cloud-city” potential. But getting the materials there, either from the Venus surface or elsewhere (necessary for water) ain’t easy.

Alfred Differ said...

@Robert Carroll: Besides our hosts comment pointing out the bottom of the pyramid is staffed by robots’, there is also a problem if you examine the numbers. The so-called third world isn’t. They are all involved in a rapidly improving enrichment event. Many of them are growing in that sense faster than we are by leap-frogging some of the ideas the West accumulated in its multi-generation rise. For example, South Korea used to be at subsistence levels after the Korean War. Two generations later (instead of 10 for the UK), they are top-tier in the first world in what matters to the average person.

I disagree with the leftists here who think they can make the world a better place by giving the folks at the top of the diamond a shave. It’s not the end of the world if they succeed, but whiskers grow back.

What has converted the world form pyramid to diamond shape is a madness that stuck like a plague that convinces us creative destruction is a good thing. It IS, but it is also terribly disruptive and scary. We applaud it when we buy higher quality things or ditch the old for the new, but seek government protection when it threatens our incomes. Trade-tested progress has lifted ALL of humanity, so it is the weirdest plague we’ve ever faced.

(For anyone who points out there are still people living near $1/day, I’ll point out they aren’t dying of small pox and for the first time since forever, they have a reason to hope their poverty will end.)

donzelion said...

@Alfred/Robert - I suppose I fall into the camp that thinks a shave won't hurt the folks at the top all that much, but still believe HOW one lives (and how one makes one's living) matters far more than most folks realize, and a shave is less important than reining in parasitism.

Parasites tend to be the opposite of innovative, though they're usually endowed with remarkable self-promotional skills. One party digs a well first, then poisons the river so that he can monopolize clean water for a while, marking up his provision of safe water extortionately.

Progressive taxation strips the benefit from such easy, venal schemes - hurting the low-level, idiot/brutal schemers far more than the productive folks who generate new approaches to resolving problems. The productive sorts will also be 'hurt' by this, but when one is living extremely well, their pain is in the form of lost billions they might have otherwise had, not in terms of cholera they avoided contracting.

Anonymous said...

Venus needs a proper moon to be suitable terraformed. I am sure we could re-route Mercury by blasting off a minute percent of it's surface. Wait a few centuries for the orbital perturbations to even out and Venus might gain enough spin for a proper day/night cycle. Throw a nice self-replicating shroud around the planet to reflect/absorb 20% or so of the incident sunlight and you could have a whole planet with a nice Mediterranean climate from nearly pole to pole. Easy-peazy.

-AtomicZeppelinMan

LarryHart said...

I said:

In some sense, isn't that where Libertarianuan comes from?


Ok, that's what I get for posting at 3am during a thunderstorm.

I obviously meant "Libertarianism". The "uan" is actually "ism" on the keyboard, but with both hands offset one key to the left.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

The irony is that this system is completely unnecessary: the rich tax-fraudsters and wage-thieves wouldn't lose much of their material comforts if they were forcefully dragged back to the upper middle-class levels of income, which would allow a better distribution of wealth within western societies, allowing western plebeians to afford more expensive stuff, thus allowing higher prices and better wages for the denizens of the countries where the goods are produced.


I've often wondered if the likes of the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adleson are actually getting their money's worth when they spend billions of dollars on bribes and campaign donations and advertising to get lower taxes and undermine regulation of their businesses. Might they have more money in the end if they just paid the darn tax instead?

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

As to why there are so few women here, I doubt there is a definitive answer, but I can always speculate (you've probably noticed that I do that a lot). If we go with the assumption that women are, on average, more auditory, that would make them better communicators (on average), so they might be more inclined to communicate face-to-face more so than on line.


Sadly, in many online forums, women experience a level of harassment such that it doesn't surprise me if it's not worth their showing up. A pity, though.

LarryHart said...

Jerry Emanuelson:

It is just that many of us long-time libertarians have gotten abnormally sensitive to "guilt by association" because of the many attempts over many decades that have been made to associate unsavory characters with libertarianism.. I was trying to illustrate how silly "guilt by association"


Unfortunately, most mainstream mentions of Libertarians (with a capital L) seem to be about the anti-government Ayn Rand types.

Many years ago, on the Cerebus list, I tried to explain how the generation of Jewish people my parents' age are wary of discrimination at the hands of Christians. This of course led to a whole rebuttal about how those who practice anti-Semitism are not really being Christian. I argued back that that was beside the point--that my ancestors had learned through experience to be wary of "people describing themselves as Christians", irrespective of whether those people were or were not true disciples of Jesus.

I'm afraid that you are a similar position realtive to "people describing themselves as Libertarians." More often than not, the ones who one reads about in news items are the likes of Rand Paul or (God help us) Paul Ryan.

Jumper said...

Many internet venues understand gender neutral noms de web and in Platonic dialogs, which we respect at least in theory in general western society, why not? Sooner or later it comes clear with regular cohorts but respect mandates not volunteering it. It serves as a learning experience, too, when people get it wrong.
There aren't enough women here. We should make a movie about that.

Jumper said...

I uplifted several species using my own DNA. My sons Tango and Bruno are housebroken.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_nEAvGaaxTCI/StIfKvdqb4I/AAAAAAAAAdA/iHx0TBfzqeQ/s1600/russ-orang-final.jpg
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_nEAvGaaxTCI/SrUJMsaAlqI/AAAAAAAAAbw/_YhdceP96fA/s1600/bear-jumper.jpg

Robert said...

Actually, Dr. Brin, there's a source of hydrogen that is spewing protons into space continuously. It is also the devil that stripped the water out of Venus to begin with.

That being Sol.

That said, given the lack of magnetic field to protect people from solar flares and the like... it is far more logical and intelligent to go after asteroids, use the materials to create hollow worlds spun to create the illusion of gravity, and terraform the inside of these environments. In some cases you could even eventually craft huge solar sails and slowly set sail into the intergalactic medium (though you'd want a good supply of nuclear fuels to help provide warmth while in the interstellar void in-between stars) and slowly colonize the rest of the galaxy.

In fact, I believe you depicted this in the last part of "Existence" though I'm not sure what form of propulsion the generation ship used in that part of the novel.

Rob H.

Paul451 said...

Locumranch shows us his MGTOW colours. A group that even the angriest Men's Rights Activist considers creepy.

--

Alfred,
"Convince me you've researched this more than I have and we can keep debating it [...]"

Can't I just send you a picture of my cock next to a standard rule?

Me: "The former highlighted part is total economic activity, correct for price inflation, divided per capita. It says nothing about the experience of "the average person". "
You: "No. You are referring to inflation adjusted income. I'm referring to what that income can purchase."

You missed my point. Your measure was a total, divided by population. That tells you nothing of the experience of the "average person".

The US median vs mean income was an example of that. The US average income has grown enormously, but the mean income hasn't. The former therefore tells you nothing about the experience of the "average American".

--

Jim Baca,
"oh, great SciFi writer that you are. Write a short story about an alien intervention in which all guns on planet earth are turned into nerfballs. It could be hilarious."

For anyone interested, AC Clarke wrote this scenario in The Trigger; Frank Herbert in Cease Fire.

Paul451 said...

"but the mean income hasn't."

{sigh} median.

Tony Fisk said...

@KB: A belated welcome. Your sense of timing proved impeccable!

Having recently finished reading the Martin/Dozois anthology "Old Venus", I thought the 'Cloud City' scenario was the only one that really could have filled the brief for a modern audience... and none of the authors tried it!
(Oh, there were a couple of good efforts: "Tumbledowns" being one. I just felt the whole concept foundered on trying to be what clearly wasn't.)

Haven't given up on a 'cloud city' on Earth, yet. Even if the engineering equations gives the thumbs down.

Paul SB said...

KB,

"Also a certain poster prone to making incoherent arguments from dictionary definitions has probably scared off more than a few."
- To say nothing of a tendency to dish out barbed compliments.

Your "something intelligent to say" comment might hint at another explanation: most Western societies have worked so hard against the valuing of most human life, except those few at the top of the economic hierarchy, that inferiority complexes are virtually in our DNA. This is especially so in societies that differentially value the sexes. or put more simply, it has always served the purposes of male-dominated hierarchies to teach inferiority to their females. We are supposed to be in a more enlightened age, but old memes die hard. Males are more given to rambling on about their opinions because inter-male competition is the modus operandi of traditional civilizations. This is not to say that there are no stuck-up, arrogant women, just that they tend to be more subtle about it. Males are more given to bluster. Give it a couple million years when human sexual dimorphism drops to nearly zero...

David Brin said...

donzel totally. Sorry Alfred, but the very topmost need shaving regularly and vigorously. NOT to rob them of being rich (though market rules should reward innovative providers of goods and services over predators, rentiers and Golgafrincham B Ark parasites — but simply in order to prevent the entrenchment of an oligarchy that WILL kill the golden egg laying goose. Not might but will.

We got the spectacular growth of the 50s and 60s DURING Rooseveltean high tax rates. I reiterate - oligarchy is vastly vastly a worse enemy of flat-fair-creative markets than civil servants are. Am I libertarian enough to also fear the latter? Sure! But some on. Six…. thousand… years.

Larryhart, I believe the kochs are (stupidly) sincere in their rationalizations to rebuild feudal lordship. Adelson though… so long as his Macau properties are anomalously “profitable” I will sniff and nurse suspicions of a very dark nature.

RobH you need to get INSISTENCE and read my story “Tumbledowns” about the terraforming of Venus!

Paul SB said...

Paul 451,

On arranged marriages, you said: "Your professor really didn't think it through."

I did say that this was a history professor. One of the main reasons I ditched that major was because I got the distinct impression that historians were much more interested in using the historical record to confirm their assumptions than to learn the truth of the matter (Lewis Carol, as quoted by Erin Schram, comes back into mind).

Unfortunately, when I switched to Anthropology I found a rather different bias. The old guard tend to be very focused on small-scale human social organization, and consider you misguided if you show much interest in state-level civilization. Given how the Colonial Era has virtually wiped out such small-scale societies, it is an understandable focus. If you want to understand the human species, you have to look at it in all its manifestations, not merely the most prevalent in your own time. I get that, and I get how important it is to not overlook 200,000 years of human evolution, but when I showed a pragmatic interest in applying what the discipline has to offer to modern civilizations, I got a lot of dubious looks. It was only when I tried to insert myself into a project in Greece that i really understood why. It boils down to class warfare.

Anyway, while I loved my anther training and all the wild ideas it exposed me to, it did not satisfy my desire to examine the kind of civilizations we live in today. Your explanation sounds like very sound anthropological reasoning, and much better than what i got from my history studies. Kudos for that!

Now back to grading ... drudge ... drudge ...

Robert said...

And now for a brief bit of political humor from the esteemed Jim Wright.

Flaming poo may be involved.

Rob H.

Paul SB said...

I am forgetting Jonathan Sills, who commented on the Spectrum. Rude of me.

When my son was diagnosed in Kinder, my wife and I attended several workshops on the subject. At one point we were in a room with over a hundred other parents when they went into a long list of typical characteristics of people on the Spectrum. Much of the room burst out in uneasy guffaws when they explained how common it was for autistic children to cut the tags out of their shirts, because the things drive them crazy. From the comments I heard, I was not the only one laughing because I had done exactly that when I was little. I was also very bothered by noise, and was my older brother, who used to fly off into rages if he heard the tiniest sound of chewing at the dinner table. My difficulties sleeping (and accompanying memory issues) might stem from that sensitivity to sound. But on the positive side, music has always provided an easy and effective stress reliever for me, so it has its ups as well as its downs.

I have never been diagnosed, and probably an MRI scan of my brain would tell little about what it was like when I was 5 or 8 or 15. A few of those typical traits would just be considered quirks in a normal human personality, but a plethora of them make for a diagnosis. I am not entirely sure that is a good way to diagnose a disorder, but until we narrow down causation, it might be the best we can do for now. Recent experiments with adding to the diversity of intestinal bacteria suggest that this may be as epigenetic as genetic, and the ASD plague may have as much to do with antibiotics in our foods (mainly meats & dairy - one of our causes du jour) as with even complex polygenic inheritance or de novo mutations.

The one really sad thing about this is how older generation people tend to react. Soon after my son's diagnosis I mentioned this to some old friends from my home town (by e-mail), and have not heard from most of them since then. I don't even really know if I actually have the disorder, but in too many people's minds the stigma of mental disorder is that intense, they would just dump a friend they had known for 15-20 years. I see less of that in the young people I work with. When I was a kid, most people reacted with disgust to the mentally handicapped, but today kids with such issues walk into my classroom at lunchtime and the other kids are mostly friendly to them and unconcerned by their differences.

David Brin said...

har! Yuck. Har again.

David Brin said...

Eeep! Paul posted between my reading of the Jim Wright poopy humor and my replying here. Har to THAT! Not to Paul's deeply moving story.

Robert said...

I've done that (gotten ninjaed... or sometimes ninja other posts) on several occasions! ^^;;

Glad I (through Jim's FB post) could bring a chuckle to you, Dr. Brin. :)

Rob H.

donzelion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - "...hosted by UCSD's new Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, where the sciences and arts come together to explore humanity's most unique gift.) Register to attend."

Not quite a San Diegan anymore, but I cannot find a registration page on the site you linked to - all their events are backwards looking. I could probably find a few friends to attend with me, who keep asking me to swing by and visit SD again.

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Paul SB said...

And while playing chicken with sleep deprivation, I forgot that I wanted to cheer up my sad story with some kind of joke - something about making a book of ignoramus origami. One of the first things it would need would be an origami DNA that teaches polygeny, epigene, and the futility of genetic determinism. As Jonathan suggests, too many people have very primitive (and very wrong) ideas about genes and "purity" and invest too much shame in things they have no control over. Maybe an origami brain, too, that has all the anatomy and shows the difference between "instinct" and lame excuses for bad behavior.

David Brin said...

onward


onward

Duncan Ocel said...

How about a chimp writing a coherent essay?