Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Science Fiction: Into the future

Let's take a pause to envision how science fiction makes a difference.  First by pointing at the rocks that lie in wait, downstream, that might yet be avoided. Second, by shining light upon the possible -- on things that we might want, or the people we choose to become. And finally...

... the category of I told you so. Rubbing our Cassandra warnings in the faces of those who just didn't listen!  Very soon, I will post about how Robert Heinlein is suddenly oh, so pertinent again, in all three categories.  But for now, let us romp through the lesser but still fascinating tulips all around us.

== Appreciation from the mighty ==

We have fans in unexpected places.  For example, the (then) President of the United States - in his final interview in office - touted The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin and conversed tangentially about the Hugo Award. Yes, he has long been – tangentially – a sci fi reader. Great stuff!  But. Um hey, sir? Did you notice my name, in small letters, on the back cover of that book? ;-)

Well, well. In this interview, Obama says, I don’t worry about the survival of the novel. We’re a storytelling species. I think that what one of the jobs of political leaders going forward is, is to tell a better story about what binds us together as a people. And America is unique in having to stitch together all these disparate elements – we’re not one race, we’re not one tribe, folks didn’t all arrive here at the same time. What holds us together is an idea, and it’s a story about who we are and what’s important to us. And I want to make sure that we continue that.”

What a terrific interview about books and reading with a truly amazing American who isn't done helping the world. 

Even more powerful... Google has shown its appreciation often. For example, I spoke last week at the blue-sky and far-out research group "X" -- with thanks to our host, Rapid Evaluation leader Rich DuVaul and his fine colleagues.  And in this article how another group, Google Creative Lab, is currently taking applications for The Five, a one-year paid program for five lucky innovators, drawn from a pool of artists, designers, filmmakers, developers, and other talented, multi-dextrous makers. And yes, SF authors.

In fact, open mindedness has always been present, at least among geniuses. Winston Churchill wrote an extensive essay about… alien life. How amazing! We will fight them on the beaches and the landing grounds...

== Cool links ==

Tune in to Episode 5: "Limits of Understanding: cosmology, imagination, and the role of theology", with Paul Steinhardt (author of Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang) and David Brin, part of the "Into the Impossible" podcast series by UCSD’s Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination.

Also check out the extensive archives of Starship Sofa for more audio science fiction stories. 

Yea for time sinks! Dust offers a great collection of entertaining and provocative Sci Fi short films.

Good Omens, Neil Gaiman’s first novel, done with the late Terry Pratchett, will be televised by the BBC. And Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land is coming to television as well. 

On the international front... Looks like a really interesting contribution to the African SF Renaissance.  Nigerians in Space by Deji Bryce Olukotun, tells the tale of a Nigerian geologist who has been asked by his nation... to steal a piece of the moon.

And this from the New Scientist: In China, this is Science Fiction's Golden Age, by Lavie Tidhar. 

Did SF predict the iPad, Skype... or Trump? Business Insider lists: The seven most freakishly accurate ways science fiction predicted he future.

== Sci Fi novels in the news ==

Larry Niven’s classic story Inconstant Moon asks the question, “What would you do if it were your last night on Earth?” and takes place over one catastrophic night in Los Angeles.  It’s been picked up for a film by the producers of The Arrival.  Terrific!  

In other Niven News, Larry’s terrific novel Protector is assigned reading for the Special and General Relativity course at West Point! The tale’s vivid depiction of interstellar spaceflight at relativistic speeds culminates in a relativistic space “dogfight” past a neutron star.  Though of course the tactics shown at the end of Startide Rising ain’t shabby, neither, ahem. 

Jeez, what’ll it take to get some royalties, around here? Have a look at an Interesting spin on dittos in a video game…  that actually looks kinda cool. 

And then there’s this: “Terminator and Avatar director James Cameron has signed a deal with AMC to produce a six-episode documentary series, titled James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction. The series will explore how science fiction has tried to answer humanity’s “big questions” throughout history.”  I’ve been on a lot of these shows, e.g. Masters of Science Fiction and Sci Fi legends, but I expect Cameron to bring a big budget sensibility and a strong sense of why we are all different from our ancestors. Largely because of a new habit of looking ahead.

Oh, here's another interesting novel, this one by Norman Spinrad (author of Bug Jack Barron and The Iron Dream). HIs latest, The People's Police tells of New Orleans in a near future when Category 6 hurricanes are the norm, when deflation is getting millions tossed from their homes, when voodoo comes alive... and when the police tire of serving the money-masters, devoting their loyalty instead to the common people.   

Norman can get a bit polemical... then he makes you laugh out loud with something outrageously unexpected, like a vodoun spirit talker elected governor of Louisiana. I think he gets wrong how our public servants will rise up to protect and defend and serve us.  But it is a near-certainty that they will.

Just released: a graphic novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler's powerful novel, Kindred. 

And Margaret Atwood has created a graphic novel, Angel Catbird -- a tale of genetic engineering.. and a superhero who emerges after the accidental merging of human DNA with that of a cat and an owl. Volume 2, To Castle Catula has just been released.


Following up on his classic American Gods, Neil Gaiman's latest novel, Norse Mythology was released in February -- with his own colorful re-telling of the legends of the ancient Norse pantheon of gods. 

== Science Fiction & Politics ==

Slate has invited ten writers to envision the possible (dystopic?) future of Trump's America. You can read compelling selections by Lauren Beukes, Jeff Vandemeer, Elizabeth Bear, Saladin Ahmed, Nisi Shawl, Ben Winters and others in The Trump Story Project.  


Our metaphors fill society.  This one was posted with zero commentary needed.


98 comments:

sociotard said...

I just started a fun Scifi novel: All Our Wrong Todays in which a guy from the future predicted in the 50s (moon bases, food pills, etc) gets stranded in our timeline.

In the transparency front: These are the 17 House Representatives that introduced a bill to let telecoms sell your personal internet history

I'm having a hard time seeing how this can be reciprocal. Quarterly report on who my data has been sold to?

baron said...

there also this from a late 80s early 1990s heavy metal comic predicting trump in a story called the wall!
http://www.heavymetal.com/news/president-elect-donald-trump-as-foretold-in-a-1990-heavy-metal-story/

Scott Nutting said...

That was a great interview, but its timing was a gut shot. A final (and personalized) reminder that the outgoing president was one who, at the very least, lived on the same cultural planet as I did. It's only been a little more than a month, but contrast seems to have crystallized.

Alfred Differ said...

Quarterly report on who my data has been sold to?

Your data? Heh.

In a world where copying is dirt cheap, ownership won't make much sense.
In a world where tracking is dirt cheap and useful, hiding won't make much sense.
In a world where accessing relieves us of the burden of owning large spaces to store copies of what we want, unique access rights won't make much sense. Ownership of data will become access rights to streams.

I'm having a hard time seeing how ownership of anything not directly connected to atoms is going to work.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Look on the bright side, Alfred; long after you're dead, your data persona will live on, insensate and profitable.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. As I'm a non-believer, that doesn't bother me. 8)


Seriously, though, all of us who love another person maintains a partial copy of them in our heads. That copy survives the death of the original and benefits the so-called owner. Copying people isn't a new thing. We refer to this rather directly at funerals when we mention who the deceased is 'survived by.'

Y'all are welcome to a partial copy of me.
Make it more complete if you like.
Do with it what you wish.

David Brin said...

Does anyone remember the "March Madness" site that has folks voting for the Postman over King's The Stand, tomorrow?

David Brin said...

Anyone out there like long odds? David (literally) vs Goliath? In this "March Madness" bracket face-off of post-apocalyptic novels, tonight's voting pits my novel The Postman against Stephen King's The Stand! And no, I don't stand a chance. But yes, you can join the fun here:

https://www.greghickeywrites.com/dystopia-march-madness

And sure, it's clickbait. Who cares? 

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred Differ wrote:
"Y'all are welcome to a partial copy of me.
Make it more complete if you like.
Do with it what you wish."

Data retention is a rather loveless process, unlikely to benefit you, or your heirs and assigns.
In fact, I just had a chilling flash of Harlen Ellison's "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream."

Smurphs said...

I hate to say this, but I always enjoyed The Stand more than The Postman. My 2nd favorite King book vs. my probably least favorite Brin book. I don't know why, it just never spoke to me the way most of your other work has.

But in your honor, and in appreciation of this blog, I just went and voted for you. The Postman is currently winning, 5 to 4!

Good Luck!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Hmmm. "The Stand" is one of the best-known dystopean novels around, even if King ran on about 125 pages past where he needed to. But my #1 pick in your division would have to be "Stand on Zanzibar"
Christ, what an imagination I've got!

LarryHart said...

Well, I did my part for The Postman! Where does the matchup appear on the regional brackets. My eyes are not what they used to be.

I read The Postman back in college in the 80s, before I had ever heard of the author. I was impressed at the depth of plotting and characterization. At the time, it seemed so hard for a sci-fi or adventure story not to lapse into either the expected cliche or the "clever" reversal of cliche that was obvious from a mile away. The Postman had a satisfying resolution. Gordon didn't just win, nor did he just lose. Something else happened to resolve the narrative, and yet, the something else probably wouldn't have happened but for Gordon. So there!

OTOH, The Stand was a fascinating journey, but a fascinating journey to a "meh" destination.

LarryHart said...

Smurphs:

I hate to say this, but I always enjoyed The Stand more than The Postman. My 2nd favorite King book vs. my probably least favorite Brin book. I don't know why, it just never spoke to me the way most of your other work has.


Hmmm, the only other King books (not movies) I have read are "The Dead Zone" and "11/22/63", and I think I liked both of them better than "The Stand". Not that The Stand was bad--it kept me enraptured for weeks--but as I said above, the ending just didn't live up to the hype. I think my problem with King in general is he pulls me in with something like sci-fi, but he's going for horror, and that's just not my thing.

I will say, it was freaky to see the movie version of "The Dead Zone" a second time after becoming a fan of "The West Wing". With Jeb Bartlet in mind, Martin Sheen's portrayal of a different charismatic presidential candidate from New Hampshire was spooky.

But in your honor, and in appreciation of this blog, I just went and voted for you.


Well, that's all right then. :)

The Postman is currently winning, 5 to 4!


I think I was the tying vote at 4.

Tony Fisk said...

A good point to insert a small plug for Alex Steffen's "Nearly Now", a series of reports from the near future (specifically chosen to be post-Trump because, yes, there will be such a thing). The first couple are free, the rest require a small outlay.

I'm reading "Norse Mythology" at the moment. While sticking to the telling of the tales, Gaiman adds a subtle overlay to his characters that might not be present in the original Eddas. Thus, Fenris becomes a monster of Odin's own making. Thor may prefer to throw before thinking, but he *can* think. Loki's wit is used mainly to get him out of the trouble it got him into in the first place. The Utgard frost giants are a good deal more formidable than the standard villainous cipher, and kudos to Heimdall for the best ruse of all!
(Gaiman did a heavier form of this 'reappraisal' with his version of Beowulf, where we learn a bit about Grendel's Dad as well. While I think it makes for a more interesting story, purists may take umbrage, and a large hammer)

...Speaking of which, there was a discussion of the various pronunciations of "Thor", with someone pointing to the Faeroese 'Tórður', which got me to wondering whether the bluff and rough goat-riding Theodore Roosevelt was handy with a blunt instrument, which leads into a certain TV series about to makes its debut...

All this talk of SF reminds me that the Hugo nominations are due.

One final note, the first instalment of Philip Pullman's long awaited "Book of Dust" is due to be released in October.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I just began reading "Seven Surrenders" by Ada Palmer for review. Dystopian world. Unfortunately, I have NOT read the preceding book, "Too Like the Lightning" and I'll probably spend the first third of the book wondering if I can give it a competent review because of that gap. What I've read so far is impressive as hell, though. Brian K Vaughn meets Neal Stephenson!

Paul SB said...

I just checked and Brin is now behind 15:10. We can do better, I'm quite sure.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Zepp, ever read the story of Henrietta Lacks, whose cancerous cells were taken without her permission and used to set up genetic test lines around the world? She never got any acknowledgement (until recently) and her family never received any compensation.

Rereading Warren Ellis's saga Transmetropolitan, and ticking off how many points of correspondence there are between his world and the Rage Mango's presidency.

Zepp Jamieson said...

To MadLibrarian:
Yeah, I have read about Lacks. She may have been entitled to acknowledgement, but I'm far from convinced her estate is entitled to any compensation. I admit I strongly dislike the idea that ANYONE can own human DNA, even the person possessing their own particular sample.

David Brin said...

Pulled ahead by one! Tell your friends!

Duncan Cairncross said...

If I'm reading this right Postman has already beaten The Chrysalids in the previous round

That's up with BIG boys! - Stephen King is out of his depth here

Twominds said...

44 to 29 for The Postman at the moment.

King needs an organised following, like someone here.

I'm completely subjective: I never read The Stand.

LarryHart said...

Postman still leads.

Since it is no longer 3/14 in any time zone, how much longer is this vote being held open?

LarryHart said...

Twominds:

King needs an organised following, like someone here.


Naaaah, Brin fans "want it more".

Anonymous said...

John Michael Greer : MYTH OF PROGRESS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2whKR8lbqI

LarryHart said...

I have a similar problem with Stephen King that I did as a teenager in the 1970s with "Night Gallery". I kept expecting the Scooby Doo solution, waiting for the mask to be ripped off of the monster to reveal Mr. Hotchkiss, the caretaker. The supernatural element being real felt almost like a cheat.

Now, to be fair, horror and supernatural are not always synonymous. King's "Misery" worked fine for me as a horror story without even a hint of anything supernatural about it. And the active ingredient in "The Dead Zone" was unspecified enough to count as more "unexplained" than "supernatural" per se. But both "The Stand" and "11/22/63" drew me in with a sci-fi feel, only to have the supernatural elements seem to intrude.

I understand that this is totally a matter of personal taste, and do not mean this as objective criticism, but just as an explanation of why such works don't make the final cut to me personally.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

I pretty much agree with the sentiment. As people who grew up in the 20th C. and are now living in the 21st, supernatural anything just doesn't cut it. King's "Misery" is about the only thing by him I liked, because it was psychological rather than supernatural. That said, I could still enjoy Gaiman & Pratchett's "Good Omens" or Gaiman's "Anansi Boys" because they were hysterically funny. It's easier to tolerate the unbelievable when you are doubled over laughing your anatomy off.

It does worry me, though, that we may be paralleling the 18th and 19th Centuries, sliding back into a new dark age of irrationality.

raito said...

Heinlein? As I may ahve said, I'm currently reading Have Spacesuit, Will Travel to my children. And I find the first chapter's rant on modern education to be particularly spot-on. When I was on the long-range planning committe for the local school district, there were people who far preferred to talk about the racial/ethic balance in district staff in preference to anything to do with academics at all. At my most recent teacher conference, it was all I could do to get the teacher to talk about my daughter's academics at all. It's not like I felt we shouldn't discuss her sical development, but I felt that just because she tests out at about 4 years past the norm doesn't mean that it should be dismissed.

China? I haven't been able to dredge up lately the interview with one Chinese government offical who was aksed a few years ago why the Chinese government was suddenly in favor of science fiction after years of suppression. His answer was that they'd sent a delegation to the US to find out how the US managed to innovate (and admitting that China is far, far better at copying than innovating). All the innovators that they interviewd had something in common. They had all read a lot of science fiction when teenagers.

That picture? Does anyone under 30 even know who that guy in the foreground is?

King? Love his short stories. Hate his novels. I find Hickey's idea of what consitutes a dystopia to disagree with mine, but that's minor. As for the supernatural, for me it's no different than any other fantasy. But I do agree that not all horror is supernatural, nor all supernatural is horrific.

Zepp Jamieson,

So your personal data is copyrighted then?

And as far as DNA goes, I agree on the IP rights to anything that occurs in nature, at least. I'm still not quite sure how I feel about created DNA, because it's a pretty complex situation, and getting it wrong would be bad. The physical sample is another matter, though.

Tim H. said...

On Stephen King and science fiction, consider "The Tommyknockers", a UFO story with no supernatural elements.

LarryHart said...

Ok, the Postman vs Stand vote is no longer active.

But it still doesn't show who won yesterday.

Brin was ahead when last I looked, though.

Robert said...

Thanks, David - A post for the ages.

God, I miss Obama. I would even if the Dems had won, but Trump makes it downright painful. Most times, I vote D only because the Rs have gone out of their minds (look up conservatism as a classical political philosophy, and compare - and despair), but with Obama we had someone I could vote for without reservation. A once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.

A men's chorus I belong to is rehearsing a song called "Tell My Father" from a musical about the Civil War. The hardest thing about it is keeping from crying. Because, as David points out, the Civil War is still going on.

My respect for Churchill has gone up another notch - something I thought was impossible.

I was lucky enough to get a hold of Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology, and loved it. While I've always thought Thor vs. Captain America was a good story, I've always rejected the premise. Sorry, David, but Thor is on our side. In all the myths about him, he has too much basic decency to side with the Nazis. Odin, I'm not so sure of; he's almost as slippery as Loki. Lewis and Tolkien loved Norse mythology, and both (correctly) blasted the Nazis for abusing it. Plug: anyone with any interest in Tolkien should read his Letters. Further plug: Check out the Loki character in Poul Anderson's Orion Shall Rise.

By the time I saw this post, the Postman vote was over. For me, it would be a no-brainer; I'd take Brin over King any day. The one thing I really like by King is really by Kubrick anyway.

And from the previous post (I think), I loved the article about Bernie converting an audience of Trump supporters in WVA to single-payer healthcare. Does anyone even begin to think Hillary could have pulled it off? And yes, I did vote for her, and even got to like her a little.


Bob Pfeiffer

Jumper said...

The Stand is one of my least favorite King books, and Postman one of my favorite Brin books, so I voted accordingly. The discussion here of King's non-supernatural stories is good, but don't forget Delores Claiborne, although there is just a tiny bit of hoodoo skirting around in it. Gerald's Game and Cujo are not supernatural as I recall. And of course the story The Shawshank Redemption.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp Jamieson;

I’m not convinced. If one merchant remembers what I like for breakfast, my customer experience is tailored a bit to fit me. If they remember a bit more, my family might benefit since they have moderate fidelity copies of me and those copies would be made more comfortable by the tailoring.

Adam Smith described it using the behaviors of the butcher, brewer, and baker. They might not intend benevolence, yet I am served by their self-interest. One should not confuse the warm, fuzzy feeling we associate with love with the actual act of copying and retention. The warmth we normally associate connects certain efforts to evolutionary rewards that make us a social species. Our trade behaviors are very new, though, and not yet baked into us as endocrine responses.

Ultimately, it isn’t what they know about me that will focus my attention. It is what they do with that knowledge that matters. People who love us become a little bit like us. It remains to be seen what the analogous response is for corporations.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Honestly, I like King's fantasy works best: primarily, though not exclusively, the _Dark Tower_ cycle. There's plenty of horror scattered through it, but it's not primarily a work of horror; it's a drama, an epic tragic cross between a Western and a trans-dimensional fantasy. Narnia meets Sergio Leone a la King.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Gerald's Game was probably the most solid of his non-supernatural novels. He's at his best when he focuses on the human psyche.
11/22/63 is also pretty solid and the oddities the reader encounters can be chalked up to the general strangeness and charm of time travel. And in theory, 11/22/63 could be counted as a dystopian novel (an now seems a good time to learn the undying hatred of the world and call it 'die-fi'). Nuclear war or Donald Trump; either way we're screwed.

Jumper said...

What was the godawful Heinlein book about the ship that traveled sideways in probability to places like Alice in Wonderland universe, etc.?

Zepp Jamieson said...

I'm guessing that would be "The Number of the Beast."

matthew said...

A political - religious interruption, if you don't mind. From Fox News, even.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/03/15/southern-baptist-leaders-tout-unity-amid-rift-that-could-cost-church-millions.html

TL:DR is that portions of the Southern Baptist Convention leadership are threatening to withhold dues to the organization over its' support for Trump and racist displays (Confederate Flags).

This is some of the biggest news I've seen this week. Resistance from the heart of the Christian Right.

Wow. Just wow.

LarryHart said...

Robert (Bob Pfeiffer) :

While I've always thought Thor vs. Captain America was a good story, I've always rejected the premise. Sorry, David, but Thor is on our side. In all the myths about him, he has too much basic decency to side with the Nazis.


I can't speak for the author, but my take is that you're looking at it backwards.

It's not that the Nazis conjured up the Aesir and then the individual gods took sides consistent with their character. The Nazis conjured up the gods as they perceived them, with the pantheon as their weapon. Loki was on our side (kinda) because his character is an annoyance to the other gods.

Its like when I imagine The Rapture coming and taking all of the right-wingers away so that we can get on with our lives. I don't mean that to be a theological discussion of whether Jesus would actually behave that way. I'm starting with a story premise--that the right-wing Christianists are correct that they are the ones taken up--and imagining conclusions from the premise.

LarryHart said...

And as long as politics are being discussed again...

When Dr Brin proposed using "generals", he didn't mean "attorneys general", but the concept still works. From today's www.electoral-vote.com :


When Attorney General Jeff Sessions got rid of all the U.S. attorneys appointed by Barack Obama so that he could pick new ones, it looked like a win-win proposition. The U.S. attorneys would stop investigating voter suppression, and the new ones could start investigating voter fraud. However, there is a downside to the mass firing that Sessions may have overlooked. U.S. Attorneys appointed by Obama are probably mostly Democrats and most are media-savvy and well connected. The ones who have successfully prosecuted high-profile cases are well positioned to run for state attorney general or governor on a law-and-order platform. For example, Barbara McQuade successfully prosecuted the corrupt former mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, as well as the "underwear bomber." She is being urged to run for either Michigan attorney general or governor of Michigan.

History shows that U.S. attorneys make strong candidates. Chris Christie jumped from U.S. attorney to governor of New Jersey. Matt Mead made it to governor of Wyoming. Patrick Meehan, Tim Griffin, Susan Brooks, and John Ratcliffe were elected to the House. Sheldon Whitehouse skipped the House and was elected directly to the Senate. Democrats are going to be examining the 46 fired U.S. attorneys in the coming weeks, looking for statewide candidates among them. With 38 gubernatorial races in 2017 and 2018, they might well find a number of strong possibilities among them.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

11/22/63 is also pretty solid and the oddities the reader encounters can be chalked up to the general strangeness and charm of time travel.


It's not easy to respond to this without spoiling the book for those who haven't read it yet. Suffice it to say that the "consequences" of time travel don't seem to follow from the premise. Which is why I'm not left going "Yeah, it's just as well that ___ was saved," but rather "But what if ___ was saved and ___ didn't suck?"

LarryHart said...

Does anyone know the final vote count between "The Postman" and "The Stand"? I still don't see an announced winner.

Robert said...

Larry,

Great explanation of Thor vs. Captain America. Maybe we could have a sequel where the real Thor shows up and is really pissed off. Though come to think of it he wouldn't need to.

And, yeah, what's the vote on Postman vs. Stand, anyway?


Ceterum autem censeo Trumpum esse delendam
Bob Pfeiffer.


Tony Fisk said...

If I'm reading this right Postman has already beaten The Chrysalids in the previous round

I re-read the Chrysalids recently. A *lot* of stuff in there my youthful self didn't pick up on. Particularly chilling was the eugenics rant by the Rescuer at the end. Chilling, and ironic, considering who it was she had come halfway round a devastated Earth to rescue!

Alfred Differ said...

“The Number of the Beast” was fun if you like noodling around with things even more paradoxical than time travel concepts. Try to write a decent story with a multiverse and the rabbit holes become so numerous it’s hard to go anywhere with them. It really does matter whether one is a Frequentist or a Bayesian right from the start.

If I recall, that was the first story I read that discussed the old debate about building a digital hardware industry based on a ternary number system instead of the binary one we chose.

As stories go, though, I’ve used it as a model of an end-of-career novel. He wasn’t at his best. 8)

Jumper said...

That might be the only Heinlein book I have ever thrown away without finishing it. I have my suspicions about some stay-awake meds involved in its writing. Same with The Stand.
Speaking of Chrysalids, Jefferson Airplane lifted these lyrics from that book. My girlfriend pointed that out when she read my copy. I had the recording at the time and it was on our turntable fairly regularly; I just hadn't noticed. Crown of Creation:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOrb0G0tw08

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Understandable. I imagine some rock band fans did similar things when their idols turned soft on them. What the heck is this?!


Regarding Thor, the graphic novel makes it clear from where the god-like personalities originate.

Alfred Differ said...

Out today...
Progress on the phosphate problem.


Root microbiota drive direct integration of phosphate stress and immunity

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature21417.html

Zepp Jamieson said...

LarryHart asked: " "But what if ___ was saved and ___ didn't suck?"

I would have liked something along the lines of a point-to-point explanation of this alternate future, but King does tend to rush his endings, perhaps his main weakness as a writer.

It would be fun to have a fan fic contest in which participants would come up with a credible story line that would explain how your first underscore led to your second underscore.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"That might be the only Heinlein book I have ever thrown away without finishing it. I have my suspicions about some stay-awake meds involved in its writing. Same with The Stand."

The story is that Heinlein suffered a series of TIAs (transitory ischemic attacks, microstrokes, and sorry if I'm talking down to anyone with that) and they affected his judgement and focus. As for King, I don't think his drinking had really gotten out of control that early, and the Stand was his first really ambitious work.

raito said...

Speaking about Norse Mythology, how's about A Yank At Valhalla by Edmond Hamilton? Norse myth without any supernatural stuff.

Alfred Differ,

I retain partial copies of many, many opponents as a result of sports. Fortunately, I have fewer enemies outside of that.

LarryHart,

We can only hope.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

LarryHart asked: " "But what if ___ was saved and ___ didn't suck?"

I would have liked something along the lines of a point-to-point explanation of this alternate future, but King does tend to rush his endings, perhaps his main weakness as a writer.


I'd like to see that too, but it didn't seem to me that the problem was a rushed ending. Rather, King was writing a horror story, not speculative fiction. The time travel/alternate history part was just a means of invoking the horror. If that's the case, then we're not talking about "too short an ending" so much of "way too long of a prologue."

Which of course, is "a different thing; in fact, the opposite thing."

:)

LarryHart said...

Sorry, Zepp and Alfred.

Apparently, that was Zepp Jamieson who I quoted above, not Alfred Differ after all.

Which of course is...

:)

locumranch said...


If Spinrad's 'Bug Jack Barron' and 'The People's Police' are worthy reads, then his amoral 'Greenhouse Summer' is required reading.

Heinlein's 'Number of the Beast' was the literary equivalent of a "clip show", a mere medley intended to combine his greatest hits in a single volume, the use of which usually indicates the TV serial death knell.

'The Postman' wins hands down against 'The Stand', imho, as I much prefer David's use of postal bureaucratic idealism over King's use of deus ex machina divine predestination as a plot device.

Finally, I compliment Zepp's marvelously imagination wherein the US scapegoats & blames foreign nationals for its own shortcomings (inconceivable!), asking him only 'Do Sheep Look Up?' to see how well & truly they have been screwed by their progressive cultural death path.


Beast -- LOL

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

As for King, I don't think his drinking had really gotten out of control that early, and the Stand was his first really ambitious work.


I got the impression that The Stand was intended as a kind of "great American horror novel."

Also, that King might have read that line about all the things a human being should be able to do--it ends with something to the effect of "Specialization is for animals."--and decided to include examples of his characters doing all of those things in the book.

It was epic in scope and had all sorts of different-but-intertwining plotlines going on, which really did pull me into the "universe" of the book while I was reading it. But as I said before, all of that was in service to a climax-that-wasn't.

I guess my reaction was similar to that of "11/22/63": "Ok, but what if a disease wiped out 90% of humanity, and there wasn't a supernatural villain effing up what's left of the world?"

David Brin said...

raito is that the one where the human asks dwarves to make "U235 hand grenades"?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Locumranch wrote: "Finally, I compliment Zepp's marvelously imagination wherein the US scapegoats & blames foreign nationals for its own shortcomings (inconceivable!), asking him only 'Do Sheep Look Up?' to see how well & truly they have been screwed by their progressive cultural death path."

Um, Sorry? I don't recollect saying anything along those lines.

locumranch said...


Zepp,

My sentence (above) was a McLuhanism.

Your "Christ, what an imagination I've got!" quote refers to a drug-addled individual ('Stand on Zanzibar', John Brunner, 1968) who mistakes his drug-distorted perceptions of reality for his imagination.

'Do Sheep Look Up?' (John Brunner, 1972) describes the social & ecologic catastrophes caused (or due to be caused) by western industry that a fictional US government then ascribes to an Act of War committed by foreign nationals, much in the same way that real US Democrats try to blame their recent political short-comings on 'Russian Interference'.

Either druggie or democrat, both are sheepish sophists who insist that their perspectives (no matter how distorted) represent the only one true reality:

'HRC lost because Russians' equals 'Christ, what an imagination I've got'; both are views expressed by sophist sheep; and sophist sheep who cannot 'look up', cannot 'see' their knacker & become mutton.

And, the 'death path' quip was a shout-out to our Anonymous Iroquois friend.


Beast

Sue Bursztynski said...

Sounds like there's some great stuff coming! Especially Good Omens. There was, I believe, a radio play version, but if it ever left the UK on CD I never heard about it - and it will be fascinating to see who is cast in the visual version.

I enjoyed "Thor Vs Captain America" and yes, I got that it was about the Nazis conjuring up their version of the Aesir, as they saw them. for those who enjoyed it, I'd also recommend Barbara Hambly's The Magicians Of Night, in which a mage travels to our universe to rescue what he thinks are persecuted mages, only to find himself in Nazi Germany, where the "persecuted mages" are, in fact, Nazis experimenting with magic...

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Either druggie or democrat, both are sheepish sophists who insist that their perspectives (no matter how distorted) represent the only one true reality


Remind you of anyone you know?

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

I think that's a different one, the one where the dwarves chew on rocks and spit out refined materials. In that one, the dwarves didn't know about U235. But I can't quite remember the title or author. Might have been Poul Anderson, it's the sort of thing he might write.

The one I refer to is the one where there's a thin spot in the crust in the Arctic, and the radiation from it keeps the AEsir (and the rest) immortal. Muspelheim is accessed through a hole in the crust by the AEsir in order to mine fissionables to power their tech. Protagonist accidentally ends up there and precipitates Ragnarok. Protagonist escapes with Freya. It was published on book form as an Ace Double with The Sun Destroyers by Ross Rocklynne (which is pretty trippy).

Zepp Jamieson said...

locumranch: OK, I think you had to stretch quite a bit to make that syllogy, but I can at least track your thinking.
I note that Bernie was watching the antics of an increasingly anarcho-capitalist society which was beginning to spin apart with "drug-addled" detachment. Making him, along with Chad, perhaps the only sane characters in the book.

Tony Fisk said...

Stross's "Atrocity Archives" does a darker* take on "Thor vs Captain America", in which it is found the nazis of a parallel Universe did manage to use black magic to invoke some Gods for help, only they got something *truly* hungry!

Haven't read "Number", but "Friday", and Heinlein's final work "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" was tolerably OK.
Re: strokes. I recall reading Clarke's eulogy to Heinlein; regretting the public falling out they had over the feasability of Reagan's "Star Wars" defence grid. He mentioned being puzzled and hurt by Heinlein's uncharacteristically abrasive conduct at the time, not realising that he was ill.

raito is that the one where the human asks dwarves to make "U235 hand grenades"?
I think that was a Lester Del Rey novel "Day of the Giants". The ailing Aesir nearly give the yank the 'Loki' treatment when he prunes their ailing apple tree. The grenades were an off the cuff request, that he hadn't realised the dwarves could deliver on. (Oh, the things my subconscious seems able to drag up. I'll be snagging Jormungand next if I'm not careful!)

* and more darkly amusing: as in the *real* reason there are so many one-legged pigeons around London.

Paul SB said...

The Number of the Beast? That's 686, right? Oh wait, that's the Neighbor of the Beast. I was knocking on the wrong door...

Paul SB said...

On more serious (perhaps spurious?) matters ...

Zepp,

Where locumranch is concerned, "Um, Sorry? I don't recollect saying anything along those lines." is pretty much standard issue. Like a Southern preacher, he twists everyone's words to suit his own purpose (making him a sophist), yet he completely misses his own contradictions. Larry pointed out one obvious one, in his usual way, but maybe it needs clarification, since he seems to be utterly blind to it. Thus:

"Either druggie or democrat, both are sheepish sophists who insist that their perspectives (no matter how distorted) represent the only one true reality


Remind you of anyone you know?"

This should be obvious, as it is generally liberals who accept differences and promote tolerance of diversity, while conservatives are well known for their xenophobia and willful ignorance, spitting the word "diversity" out like an obscenity. Our host has pointed this out many times before. A diverse civilization simply cannot tolerate intolerant people. It sounds ironic, but it is necessity. Hateful children like this cause chaos. It reminds me of a history professor who didn't want to get her PhD because the only place she could do that in the state was in a town known for liberals and "earth muffins." I pointed out to her that if she went there and was surrounded by earth muffins, the worst she was likely to get from them was an STD, and all she had to do to prevent that was follow Nancy's advice and "just say no." But disagreeing with right-wing conservatives can invite bullets, which you can't just say no to. It isn't liberals who who go around shooting people for their ethnic origins or religious affiliations. It wasn't liberals who decided they were no longer my friend when I married someone who isn't as white as them.

Paul SB said...

con.t

Another one:

"And, the 'death path' quip was a shout-out to our Anonymous Iroquois friend." The contradiction here is that he is praising a radical liberal, someone whose criticisms of Western industrial society are ecological in orientation - a view consistently ridiculed and dismissed by Republicans, precisely because the ecological damage caused by Republican industrialists threatens the foundations of human life, but fixing the problem might cost those right-wing conservatives a Mercedes or two.

"Finally, I compliment Zepp's marvelously imagination wherein the US scapegoats & blames foreign nationals for its own shortcomings (inconceivable!), asking him only 'Do Sheep Look Up?' to see how well & truly they have been screwed by their progressive cultural death path."

Ah, but it is the conservatives who have always been the masters of scapegoating. The Russian interference scandal, on the other hand, is not only quite plausible and in Russian interests, as well as them having a pattern of doing that in Europe, but there is also evidence. It isn't scapegoating when a hostile and autocratic foreign power sends its agents into your nation to interfere with its democratic processes. This is the same kind of argument that leads to the supposed "War on Christianity." Psychologists call this "projection" - people imagine that other people must be doing what they are doing.

Darrell E said...

I have long past tired of dystopian and time travel science fiction. I am also very sad that the typical science fiction section in the typical bricks & mortar book store is about 90% vampires and or "Urban Fantasy." Also, get off my lawn!

Paul SB said...

con.t

"'HRC lost because Russians' equals 'Christ, what an imagination I've got'; both are views expressed by sophist sheep; and sophist sheep who cannot 'look up', cannot 'see' their knacker & become mutton."

The contradiction here is that it is Republican industrialists that are turning Americans - including lower SES Republicans who are foolish enough to vote for them - into mutton. This is another case for Larry's "poor marksman" quote, and projection once again. It is conservative industrialists who are capitalizing on the American people, driving them into poverty with their exploitation. He once brought up the huge numbers of people in our society who suffer from clinical depression, which is entirely true, but the main cause of depression is work stress, not the liberal values he scapegoats for all the world's ills.

The Marshall McLuhan reference needs some explaining. The media is the message?

A month or so back, when I was too busy to take the time, he claimed that liberal California had given him the right to "arrest" people. Doctors can put what is called a 50-51 Hold, where a person who is having a mental health episode is placed under observation for 72 hours, extendable if the patient continues to show suicidal or violent behavior. Calling this a power of arrest is pure sophistry. He can't throw someone in jail because he feels like it. He can't throw someone in jail at all. He can only have someone transferred to a psychiatric facility if the patient has shown suicidal or violent intent. Pure equine excrement.

-Beast, because the stuff he spews clearly isn't the best.

Darrell E said...

I think I'll dig out some of the really old science fiction short story compilations. I really enjoy a well done short story. Anyone remember Sturgeon's Mewhu's Jet? Or The Rull by A. E. van Vogt? Or Brown's Arena?

Paul SB said...

Darrell,

One of my favorites when I was growing up was Theodore Sturgeon's short story collection called "Galactic Cluster." It had some pretty memorable stories in it, though all products of their time (I'm thinking of "Tomb Tapper" in which the Army uses a technology that allows them to read the last thoughts of the dead. They use it on a human-guided Soviet rocket that crashed in a tunnel and failed to detonate. I was just about to spoil the ending, so I'll stop there. Heinlein's "The Menace from Earth" had some good stories, too.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

The Number of the Beast? That's 686, right?


There used to be a famous Chicago building whose address was 666 N Lake Shore Drive. In the mid 80s, the address was actually officially changed to 680.

I keep hearing about a real estate deal involving Trump's son-in-law and the building at 666 Fifth Avenue in NYC. The offices of DC Comics used to be in that building.

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

I think I'll dig out some of the really old science fiction short story compilations.


I yearn for something of the original "Foundation" variety.

Is anyone here familiar with a 1960s short story by Charles Harness called "Probable Cause"? It's about the US Supreme Court having to deal with the question of whether clairvoyance and/or mind-reading violates the Fourth Amendment. It contains a boatload of detail on various historical examples of ESP, the Lincoln assassination and the intricate inner workings of the Supreme Court. Also, quite in-depth characterization of nine distinct (fictitious) Justices on the court. I'd recommend it to anyone here, although it helps to pretend that the Supreme Court hasn't lost the awe and respect it accorded back then.

LarryHart said...

The Postman won! It's moved on to the next round.

https://www.greghickeywrites.com/dystopia-march-madness?lightbox=dataItem-izimmyk2

Today's matchups include one between Animal Farm and Make Room, Make Room! (whence came the movie "Soylent Green") But the latter title is so wide that the vote totals don't show up in the visible image, at least not on my browser. So I can't tell who is winning.

Darrell E said...

LarryHart said...

"Is anyone here familiar with a 1960s short story by Charles Harness called "Probable Cause"?"

I haven't, but I'll try to find it. Interestingly, this is the only time I've ever heard of Charles Harness except for one strange little book that I read back in the early '80s. It was named Firebird, by Charles L Harness. I wouldn't call it a great book, but there was something about it that made me like it. Even though it was about time travel! I found the story and the style of writing very interesting. Enough so that I read it several times and still remember the story very well today. I'd be curious to hear from anyone else who has read it. I've never come across anyone else who has.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Paul SB: Well, so far at least, locumranch hasn't threatened to shoot me. That's something, I suppose...

Zepp Jamieson said...

Paul SB wrote: "A month or so back, when I was too busy to take the time, he claimed that liberal California had given him the right to "arrest" people. Doctors can put what is called a 50-51 Hold, where a person who is having a mental health episode is placed under observation for 72 hours, extendable if the patient continues to show suicidal or violent behavior. Calling this a power of arrest is pure sophistry. He can't throw someone in jail because he feels like it. He can't throw someone in jail at all. He can only have someone transferred to a psychiatric facility if the patient has shown suicidal or violent intent. Pure equine excrement."

I remember reading that and shaking my head. Even in the case of a 72 hour hold (which rarely lasts more than 24 hours) the physician is not making an arrest. Normally, there's not even any criminal charges, beyond possibly disturbing the peace. In those cases, the police make the arrest, and then determine 51-50 might apply. I think if locumranch tried to place someone under a 51-50 hold just because he wanted to, he would be most likely be facing a large civil suit involving false arrest and certification scrutiny from the state.

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

Stross's "Atrocity Archives" does a darker* take on "Thor vs Captain America", in which it is found the nazis of a parallel Universe did manage to use black magic to invoke some Gods for help, only they got something *truly* hungry!


Sounds like the first story of the "Hellboy" comics series. There, it wasn't the thing they conjured up (Hellboy) that was the problem. It was the magician that they were aiding (Rasputin) who had his own agenda.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

I'm thinking of "Tomb Tapper" in which the Army uses a technology that allows them to read the last thoughts of the dead.


My dad, who was an optometrist, used to tell me that "Birth of a Nation" had a scene in which the identity of a dead girl's rapist is revealed by reading the last image imprinted on her retina. Decades later, I saw the movie, and there was no such scene in there, but I wonder if it was in the book version. Dad was an avid reader, and often confused what was in the associated books and films. He also described parts of "The Andromeda Strain" which I could never find in the film.

Darrell E said...

LarryHart,

I remember something similar from one of Asimov's Wendell Urth mystery short stories (definitely recommend to anyone who hasn't read them.

Hmmm. Maybe not. I think the technology in this story read the mind of living people, not dead ones. Though reading the last thoughts of the dead sounds very familiar but I've never heard of Tomb Tapper and haven't seen Birth of a Nation.

Catfish N. Cod said...

I subscribe to the notion (a strong minority among Heinlein fans) that "Number of the Beast" was *deliberately* bad in ways that are supposed to demonstrate what *not* to do. In other words, he disguised a writing manual as a novel and got people to buy it whether they wanted to learn how to write or not. Then laughed all the way to the bank.

This is as opposed to the followups "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" and "To Sail Into The Sunset", where he is clearly starting to lose faculties (though still churning out something passably readable). TSITS in particular leans hard on his own memories of Missouri and Kansas, as over half of it is set in an alternate version of his stomping-grounds during the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. He is at least together enough to tell his readers straight up that he is succumbing to literary solipsism.

HRC did not lose solely because Russians. Anyone in the D party with brains realizes that the Russians were the straw that broke the camel's back. That does not mean the Russians should not still have snot pounded out of them for this. IMHO the situation is now beyond even just the Russians; a Chinese agent-adjacent just bought an apartment from Trump Tower for $16M, while other Chinese make deals with the Presidents' in-laws for more real estate, and Flynn is shown to have been an outright agent of the Turkish government. The Russians may merely have been the first to get their foot in the door.

raito, I'd love to see that story about Atomic Aesir.

Anyone want to comment on how the Bannon-Tea Party budget is so explicitly and virulently anti-science? I mean, 20% cut to the NIH, an agency with broad bipartisan support?

A.F. Rey said...

The Number of the Beast? That's 686, right? Oh wait, that's the Neighbor of the Beast. I was knocking on the wrong door...

I believe it is now FiveThirtyEight, at least according to some conservative friends of mine. :)

Jumper said...

I heard about some pathologists who had a cop wander in and ask if they could "take a print" of the dead guy's retina, because he'd heard the last scene was preserved. So the pathologists, being alert to the possibilities of a prank, took a photograph and gave it to the cop. It was nothing but the close-up end of a .38 bullet pointing right at the camera.

Robert said...

The problem Republicans and Trump supporters are having is a massive legitimacy issue not even seen with the George W. Bush presidency. Trump lost by almost three million votes. In response, anyone who is anti-Democrat is beating drums claiming that all those votes were illegal and ignore return comments of "and none of those were Republicans?" or "you mean Democrats did widescale voter fraud that hasn't been detected and yet still lost?" because it's not about voter fraud. It's about legitimacy.

We are seeing increasing signs that this Republican government is going to try and seize power from the people. You have multiple violations of people's rights which is causing more and more outrage. You have ongoing signs of collusion between Trump and Russia and between Trump's cabinet members and Russia. And you have a Republican (which I initially was typing as "Russian" - go figure) Legislature which is ignoring all these warning signs and doing everything in their power to avoid the voters.

This line of action doesn't make sense unless there is an intent to overthrow the democratic government and create a one-party state run by the Republicans and their oligarch rulers. Because seriously... how do these Republican politicians think they can get reelected in 1.75 years when they repeatedly avoid their voters, voted in policies to hurt them, and basically betrayed their constituents?

They don't.

Of course, the other possibility is that in 50 days now we'll see the Republican legislature come out and start with Articles of Impeachment and get rid of Trump and his Cabinet. And then they turn around and tell their voters "it's okay, we fixed this problem. You can trust us." And somehow think by doing this shell game they can get reelected.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

HRC did not lose solely because Russians. Anyone in the D party with brains realizes that the Russians were the straw that broke the camel's back


I was going to say the same thing using almost the exact same words!

No one of any credibility thinks that Russians literally "hacked" into voting machines and altered the totals. Who knows what Republican secretaries of state did with un-auditable totals in this regard, but that is not what is meant by "Russians hacking the election." The Russians were obviously complicit in hacking into the DNC (and most likely the RNC as well) and using Wikileaks to make voters suspicious of and tired of Hillary Clinton. I think it's also likely that they had blackmail material on Republicans which is being held back for now against their "good behavior". This lowered Hillary's margin of lead (and that of the Democrats in general). Add voter suppression in key states to keep just enough remaining Democratic voters from voting, and the margin was slim enough so that Comey could deliver the coup de grace a week out.

Russia was one element of a perfect storm, but there's a reason to keep harping on their involvement with #SoCalledPresident. If the only concern is "The president is a tool of rural white Christianists," well what else is new? I don't like that result, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. However, "The president is a tool of a hostile foreign power," is a serious situation we find ourselves in. When candidate Trump pledged, "I'm gonna make us all rich," we maybe should have asked what the definition of "us" is.


LarryHart said...

Robert:

Because seriously... how do these Republican politicians think they can get reelected in 1.75 years when they repeatedly avoid their voters, voted in policies to hurt them, and basically betrayed their constituents?


In the House? Gerrymandering, and the implicit question, "So who are you gonna vote for instead? A Democrat?"

In the Senate? They don't have to. I think only 8 Republican seats are up for re-election, as opposed to 25 Democratic ones. Absent some really terrible news that adheres to the party (not just Trump) and gets through the FOX filter, do you really think the Dems can hold 25 seats and flip three more?

Our chance was this year, and it didn't happen. I mean Ron Effing Johnson (R-WI) won re-election? He was down by double digits in the polls not too long before November.

The sad fact is that Republicans think they can get re-elected because they have an "R" next to their name, and to a large extent, they are correct.


Of course, the other possibility is that in 50 days now we'll see the Republican legislature come out and start with Articles of Impeachment and get rid of Trump and his Cabinet.


From your lips to God's ear, but I see no sign this is happening. I think we're stuck with the #IllegitimatePresident for another 1406 days.


And then they turn around and tell their voters "it's okay, we fixed this problem. You can trust us."


And their voters will say "What problem? America was being made great again!"

Marshall Boice said...

Darrell E said...
LarryHart,

I remember something similar from one of Asimov's Wendell Urth mystery short stories (definitely recommend to anyone who hasn't read them.

Thank you very much for this mention. I can remember reading these mysteries in English class instead of listening to the teacher lol!

TheMadLibrarian said...

Charlie Stross' 'Laundry Files' series actually takes the Clarke notion of advanced science being indistinguishable from magic and runs with it, in that magic can be invoked and controlled by sophisticated mathematical equations. Sadly, if you aren't careful, some of those equations can bring in some very nasty critters from other dimensions, and with the advent of ever more powerful computers, someone doing some idle coding for a new app might indeed give Cthulhu a toehold here. The titular 'Laundry' is the British magical version of MI6, tasked with making sure no one playing with n-string theory does just that.

I wonder if this premise is a little too close to home; it might explain some of the irrationality going on these days in DC.

raito said...

Tony Fisk,

Yes, it was the Del Rey novel I was thinking of (I looked it up while at home).

Darrel E.,

Yes, I remember them.

PauSB<

Tomb Tapper is by Blish, and it's online at archive.org.

Catfish N. Cod,

Here you go:
https://www.amazon.com/Yank-Valhalla-Destroyers-Double-93900/dp/B000B4T8KI

As for political stuff, read this one:
http://www.demos.org/publication/whose-voice-whose-choice-distorting-influence-political-donor-class-our-big-money-electi

Hardly surprising stuff, though it's ncie to see it quantified. Political donors do not represent the public at large, and don't support the same legislation as the public at large. Even within the same party.

Paul SB said...

Raito,

James Blish - no wonder I couldn't find it. My brain! (It's called "hippocampal atrophy", if you want the technical term, but I like "Dory Brain")

Rob H. wrote,

"This line of action doesn't make sense unless there is an intent to overthrow the democratic government and create a one-party state run by the Republicans and their oligarch rulers. Because seriously... how do these Republican politicians think they can get reelected in 1.75 years when they repeatedly avoid their voters, voted in policies to hurt them, and basically betrayed their constituents?"
- But that is exactly what they have been doing since Reagan, but their constituents seem to lack the ability to recognize this - or else they are exhibiting the Sunk Cost Effect. Admitting it now, after decades of supporting that gang of thieves, would be admitting to stunning stupidity, so their egos can't accept it.

Larry said,

"Dad was an avid reader, and often confused what was in the associated books and films."
- That is such a common phenomenon it has its own name - Source Blindness. Nothing unusual in your father.

and,

"And their voters will say "What problem? America was being made great again!"
- Therein lies the problem with impeaching and/or assassinating President Grope. His rabid followers will revolt if he is not allowed to make his rich business buddies great again.

A.F. Rey said,

"I believe it is now FiveThirtyEight, at least according to some conservative friends of mine. :)"
- I am coming to think that if I were surrounded by right-wing nazis like I was growing up, I would follow Ally Sheedy and say, "I don't have any friends." The ones I had in my home town just weren't worth it.

Catfish, at least today had some good news. The right-wing idiot who Locum predicted would be swept into power in Holland lost resoundingly. Hopefully this will foretell the LePen campaign, and other right-wing nazi movements. As far as Grope's budget goes, does it surprise anyone that he wants to slash the budgets for science organizations? After all, they deal in facts, even the National Institute of Health. Likely a lot of his AARP base would be angered if they knew what the NIH is. They weren't shy about opposing the ACA replacement, even though so many of them were opposed to the ACA just a couple years ago.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@LarryHart: Hillary really did have some problems as a candidate, but everyone knew those from the get-go. The Republicans think we should dwell on them, attack Hillary, have a nice circular firing squad, wear some sackcloth and ashes, and then come back and admit that we need to act more Republican.

I suppose they don't remember that going through that cycle was what got us Hillary in the first place. No thank you.

@Robert: They've already been quietly seizing bits and bobs of power by gerrymandering, vote suppressing, etc. The North Carolina legislature has shown what some of them, at least, are capable of doing when feeling threatened.

But they are still counting on one thing above everything else: that Democratic supporters won't show up at polls. They can chip and chisel with small margins, but there's a limit to what they can do without openly trying to fix an election.

My current expectation is that -- assuming the system remains stable and unmangled that long-- the Democrats retake the House in 2018, but Republicans retain the Senate. That doesn't matter as much, because it takes 67 votes to impeach -- an impossible number to reach without utter calamity that makes such calculations less relevant. It is hardly likely for the Republicans to pick up more than a couple of Senate seats with P45's incompetence on the march, again absent blatant manipulation. So the current paradigm of 50 < R < 60 remains. And remember that impeaching Trump merely puts Pence in charge; it removes the chances of catastrophe, but makes the competence of the assault on anti-oligarchy greater as well.

Given his big mouth, though, the chances are that P45 will talk himself into impeachment hearings before then. He is brilliant both at mass media manipulation and at shooting himself in the foot; he has now managed to get the House Intelligence Committee, which was trying hard to defend him, condemning him as a liar. Well done, sir!

And even with the P45 gone, the internal contradictions of the GOP remain. Long before he had declared, I was expecting the circular firing squad now surrounding TrumpRyanCare. The coalition was held together by being anti-Democratic and can't actually agree about what to *do*. They might figure it out by the 2018 elections.... maybe. But Obama had a hard time doing that and he was good at organizing people; P45 is a bully and can't, and Pence had ticked off all of Indiana by the time he was named Veep. Ryan is the only one capable of herding the cats, and they're all set up to knife him. So who's going to herd cats? McConnell?

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

at least today had some good news. The right-wing idiot who Locum predicted would be swept into power in Holland lost resoundingly. Hopefully this will foretell the LePen campaign, and other right-wing nazi movements.


I saw that last night, but it wasn't final and I was afraid to jinx anything by mentioning it. Given that unexpected-and-unprecedented results are becoming the norm, I did not want to wake up to "Dewey Defeats Truman!". But good to see. Trump probably scared some Europeans who might otherwise have cast fuck-you votes against establishment parties.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Likely a lot of his AARP base would be angered if they knew what the NIH is. They weren't shy about opposing the ACA replacement, even though so many of them were opposed to the ACA just a couple years ago.


Well, they were probably opposed to Obamacare, but they like the ACA. :)

When my daughter was...seven?, or maybe eight?...she rented a cartoon video based upon a video game character named Kirby. It had several episodes, and the plots were all very similar. The townspeople blamed Kirby for some calamity and screamed for his head, until Kirby predictably saves the day, at which point those same townspeople are all "Yay! We love Kirby!"

A few years later, we watched the Cecil B. DeMille "Ten Commandments" together, in which the Hebrew slaves alternate between worshipfully following Moses and wanting to stone him and go back to Pharaoh. We were amused by how similar that plotline was to Kirby.

All of which prepares her to understand modern politics.


donzelion said...

Gosh, I go away for a few days and there's a clash of titans underway: Dr. Brin v. Stephen King? And the underdog prevails?

Next vote comes up on 3/22, pitting "The Postman" v. "The Iron Heel" - and the latter is a book I've only heard of because somebody here recommended it (I hadn't read Jack London since grade school and had no idea he'd ever penned SF). Somehow though, I don't think Jack has a very active blogging community...though I would have much preferred a Saramago v. Brin matchup, just so our host could tackle a Nobel Laureate and pick on someone a little more literary than King. ;-)

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Well, [AARP was] probably opposed to Obamacare, but they like the ACA. :)"

Are you sure? Assuming a general degree of rationality, the ACA was treated with lukewarm reception by many members of the AARP, verging on disdain: Medicare yes (it is a sacred golden calf - and anyone who touches it will be stoned), Medicaid yes (it's is a tolerable distraction, occasionally useful for spouses of Medicare recipients) - but add anything further and a fair number of them (esp. the Faux-deceived segment, which is massive) would fear that "the funds just aren't there to cover their own care."

It's a fallacious bit of reasoning...or rather, it's a fallacy which nonetheless is easily believed, akin to the myth of 'social security going bankrupt.'

David Brin said...

People put in 72 hr observation have vastly more rights than in bad old days, like unlimited phone privileges, which pretty much erases your dark, Soviet-style paranoid images.

Want to see how thoroughly the dems were overmatched in "weaponized Propaganda?" See:
https://scout.ai/story/the-rise-of-the-weaponized-ai-propaganda-machine

Add this to gerrymandering and voter suppression and red state voting machines that cannot be audited. The result? Utter locumranch hypocrisy. If ONE of those things were being done by his opponents, to HIS side, he would be screeching like a banzhee. Moreover, were his brain capable of perspective, he would grudgingly admit that pure fact, right now.

Re the Postman in March madness... thanks gus. The next matchup is March 22. Should be fairly easy, but on 3/26 Postman goes up against the big dog and hasn't a prayer.

I have one rationalization... that 1984 is not "post-Apocalypse" as much as "dystopia. Sigh.

donzelion said...

Catfish: Much as I like your prediction, mine is much more dour, as it should have been in 2016. Look at the states. Reps hold state legislatures in 2/3 of the country.

Those state legislators are backed by an impressively competent machine - a machine so good that it could prevail even with Trump at the head of the ticket, a machine that could convince card carrying Evangelicals that a gambler, philanderer, etc. was a 'baby Christian' and they must stop the Clinton machine from summoning the anti-Christ and stealing their guns. Seriously, with a machine that powerful behind them, Trump is merely one set of noise they'll shrug at.

That said, the closest district to me that CAN be flipped is CA-49th, and it just so happens that I've finally met Dr. Brin's colonel. Very genteel man. Hope to get down there and knock on some doors...or whatever else might help. Someone, somewhere, somehow needs to run Darrell Issa out of Congress.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

I have one rationalization... that 1984 is not "post-Apocalypse" as much as "dystopia.


But isn't dystopia the whole point of that site? It might be more arguable that "The Postman" doesn't even belong in that category.

Jumper said...

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1164

The Iron Heel by Jack London

David Brin said...

Guys, you know I will post about the one thing that could rip the confederacy's safe districts to shreds.

Colonels. Retired colonels. Lots of them. 3000 of them.

onward

onward